Hastings River mouse
Despite the wide-spread and high intensity fire of 2019-2020, Hastings River mouse populations in Hyland Nature Reserve within the north east of NSW have persisted, providing hope for the recovery of this threatened species.
The Hastings River mouse (Pseudomys oralis) was one of the most severely impacted endangered species in the 2019–2020 wildfires. Over 80% of its known habitat burnt with such high severity that ecologists feared the worst.
In response, the NSW Government committed to undertake surveys to identify how badly the Hastings River mouse was affected and to see if it could recover. Through a partnership between Local Land Services (North Coast and Northern Tablelands), National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Saving our Species program, DPIE ecologists have been conducting small mammal trapping surveys in the area around its northern range.
So far, 9 sites have been surveyed from a planned total of 10 sites; 8 of which were burnt in the 2019–2020 fires.
One of these sites is in Hyland Nature Reserve near Dorrigo on the New England plateau, and the location of the most recent survey.
Anna Lloyd, DPIE Threatened Species Officer with the Saving our Species program said:
“It was previously known that the Hastings River mouse could withstand mosaic and low intensity burns that promote grassy forest over shrubby forest and which stops at rainforest boundaries. What we didn’t know is how it would withstand severe wildfire.
“In the latest survey in Hyland Nature Reserve, we captured six Hastings River mice, comprising juveniles and adult males and females. This indicates to us we have a healthy breeding population. It’s the highest number of Hastings River mouse individuals caught at a site since the surveys began in October 2020.
“It’s remarkable that this population withstood the wide-spread and high intensity fire event. It’s likely individuals found refuge in rocky gorges and patches of unburnt terrain.
“Our surveys have found numbers of native small mammals gradually increasing with time since the fires. The recent rainfall has stimulated excellent ground cover and foraging resources for Hastings River mouse and other species. It gives us great hope for the future”.
Results from these surveys will determine where targeted on-ground conservation actions are required and will improve the long-term conservation outcomes for Hastings River mouse following the bushfires.
This work is part of the Regional Land Partnerships Wildlife and Habitat Bushfire Recovery Program for the Hastings River mouse, funded by the Australian Government’s Wildlife and Habitat Bushfire Recovery Program.
Find out more about the Hastings River mouse.