Threatened Glider Recovery for the Noosa Shire

Following the bush fires over the 2019/20 spring and summer, concerns of the health of our local Glider populations sparked the start of a regionwide survey for Greater and Yellow-bellied Gliders in partnership with Qld Glider Network, The Yellow-bellied Glider Project and the Department of Environment & Science. Prior to these surveys our collective understanding of population distribution in the region was extremely poor and as such the full extent and impact of the 2019/20 bushfires to local populations was unknown.

Before we began the surveys something we saw preventing us in gaining an accurate picture of local Glider distribution was the method that we would use to collect the data. Currently, the primary survey method for Glider’s is night spotlighting surveys. Research has shown detection rates for this method is worryingly low at between 7 and 10%, which can have serious ramifications for these threatened species, particularly when these methods are relied upon for development assessments. In a first for this species, Noosa Landcare trialled a Greater Glider scat detection dog in an effort to improve survey methods… Nicky Wright and detection dog ‘Ada’ from Morekos Kennels rose to the occasion after being requested to train for Greater Glider Scat detection, and did a fantastic job.

Seeing Ada in action, how efficient and precise she can be, was just astonishing. Nicky and Ada were a great team and it was wonderful to get an in-depth insight into detection dog training and field work.

The trial assessed standard visual surveying techniques against the scat detection dog methodology across 16 sites on both private and National Park land. We found that visual spotlighting by several people (average 3.8) during a single survey had a 25% detection rate compared to up to 81.25% detection rate of the scat detection dog. If we looked just at glider detection by the principal singular surveyor, the detection rate reduced to only 6.25%. This exemplifies how poorly the visual night spotlighting survey technique is.

These surveys have provided a 5-fold increase in the number of locations known to be habitat for the Endangered Greater Glider in the Noosa Region, while more importantly identifying critical linkages missing between some populations, which leave these populations at risk of genetic isolation.

As part of this endeavour, scat samples detected were sent to Federation University Australia for DNA verified and potential DNA population analysis, as is similarly being undertaken in East Gippsland Victoria.

With the support of Hollow Log Homes, Habitat Innovation and Management and QLD Wildlife and Ecological Services, we installed 50 nest boxes of three designs across 10 private properties to provide critical corridor links through regrowth vegetation to support this potential issue identified from the survey data. More are planned to be installed in the coming months.

Photos left to right: The nest boxes and installation provided by our friends from Hollow Log Homes, Queensland Wildlife and Ecological services and Habitat Innovation & Management

Of critical importance is also alerting the relevant land management entities of the presence of glider habitat on areas they manage or have responsibility for in assessing future development. All sightings and scat records to date have been submitted to the State Wildnet species record database in addition to directly informing via meetings with Noosa Council, Queensland Parks and Wildlife and the Department of Main Roads. A special presentation was delivered to the Department of Transport and Main Rds with 65 staff present, of the existence of the various glider species, along with some of the considerations needed when planning and assessing lineal transport corridor development.

These are huge achievements towards the long-term conservation of this species. We would like to thank all our many partners, Morekos Kennels and all our wonderful volunteers for making this project so successful and paving the way for more conservation actions for our glorious Gliders in the Noosa and surrounding regions.

So what’s happening next….Further surveys are planned in the coming months on Council reserves and private property. Several areas have been selected to be surveyed based on current absence of data both within potential corridors but also sites isolate in location. Look out for more project updates coming soon.

To learn more about our threatened Gliders check out more info here.

To help create more valuable Glider habitat on your property check out this great Revegetation Guide to the Threatened Gliders of Southern Queensland