Terrestrial activity patterns of the Lumholtz's Tree-Kangaroo (Dendrolagus lumholtzi) in a restored riparian habitat - implications for its conservation.
Large-scale deforestation and forest fragmentation in the tropical area of the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland, Australia, have placed extensive strains on populations of many endemic species of this area, such as the Lumholtz's Tree-Kangaroo (LTK). Despite LTKs predominantly arboreal life and their ability to quickly colonize and adapt to restored forested habitats, little is known about their terrestrial activity patterns within these habitats which put them at risk to predation by canines and to roadkill when crossing nearby roads. Using motion-sensing cameras, forest floor-related activities of LTKs were recorded in a restored riparian rainforest habitat in relation to seasons and moon phases. The results show that LTKs exhibit a cathemeral activity pattern of forest floor-related movements with a tendency towards crepuscular activity at dawn. While there was a significant association between the daytime recordings and the seasons with more activity during the days of the wet season, there was no association between the nighttime recordings and the seasons, as well as the moon phases. These results suggest that seasonal changes in temperature and precipitation, but potentially also in food quality, are likely to affect the frequency at which LTKs access the forest floor. Mitigating threats to LTKs in restored habitats should focus on facilitating terrestrial movements of LTKs, the control of feral dogs, enlarging and connecting available habitat, and educating drivers about peak times of LTK movements on the ground.