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  • (2023) Smith, Matt
    Australia’s arid zone small mammals are primarily governed by rainfall. With extreme rainfall events often being separate by prolonged periods of drought, long term data sets (> 10 years) are generally required to study small mammal ecology. In this thesis, I leverage two long term data sets collected in arid New South Wales and South Australia to investigate drivers of small mammal population dynamics at both the local and regional scale. At the local scale, I investigate the relationship between Landsat Fractional Cover (FC) measurements to assess their potential to identify small mammal habitat. By associating FC measurements with 12 years of small mammal surveying, I find evidence Landsat FC measurements are closely related to the population dynamics of rodent species Leggadina forresti and Mus musculus but not marsupial species Sminthopsis macroura and Sminthopsis crassicaudata. This suggests that Landsat FC measurements could capture suitable habitat for small mammal species with boom-and-bust population dynamics in arid rangelands. On a regional scale, I investigate Mus musculus population synchrony throughout a roughly 25 000km2 region of the Strzelecki desert and Barrier Range. By assessing the correlation between sub-population dynamics and regional rainfall, I identify groups of synchronous sub-populations that are not spatially autocorrelated or driven by regional rainfall variability. Analysis of the synchronous groups subsequently reveals that variable predator assemblages drive regional asynchrony, suggesting that while M. musculus may be more persistent where dingoes occur, they reach greater abundances where they do not. The results from these chapters highlight how various management actions impact several arid zone small mammal populations, while also identifying key areas for future research that will assist conservation land managers in identifying and mitigating threats to vulnerable species.