Astron was commissioned to undertake an Integrated Fauna Monitoring Program for the Poondano Iron Ore Project, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. A component of the program was to monitor Northern Quolls to acquire knowledge of their habitat preference to guide rehabilitation activities.
Quoll population trends were monitored using motion-detecting cameras, cage trapping and by deploying radio-tracking collars. Astron developed a spatially explicit capture-recapture framework to estimate population density and to model animal, trap and temporal effects on the distribution of a spatially heterogeneous population. Habitat selection by the Quolls was determined using K-select analysis, which quantifies the difference between the habitat available to each animal and the habitat actually used. Habitat distribution modelling was also undertaken to predict potential habitat usage in the wider area.
Habitat selection analysis provided quantitative information that informed management decisions such that rehabilitation could be designed to replicate the preferred habitat of Quolls as closely as possible. Monitoring of new artificial habitats showed that Northern Quolls were utilising the rehabilitated sites in a similar manner to natural habitat. The Quoll population remains robust and stable with trap success on disturbed sites showing positive trends toward and above pre-mining levels.