How to find grassland omnibuses in Australia
The grassland livestock of New Zealand’s South Island are becoming increasingly rare, according to research that shows they are on the brink of extinction.
The research, published in the journal Science Advances, suggests grassland grazers are on their way out of New South Wales and into New Zealand, with many being wiped out by the rising demand for meat.
Key points:Scientists believe there are around 10,000 grassland animals in the country, including some that are rare, but they do not know if they are a threat to humansResearchers say they do know they are threatened by humansThe study used satellite images to determine where grassland ecosystems were and found a significant decline in the number of species, including birds, insects and fish, which were found in New Zealand.
“In the case of some of the species that are most vulnerable, we can say that they are becoming extinct,” Dr Jennifer Jones, a PhD student at the University of New England in Wellington, said.
“We can’t say exactly what the extinction rate is, but it’s a significant proportion.”
Dr Jones said grassland is a good place to live for animals that can adapt to different habitats.
“For example, in New South Welsh, it’s very wet, and the land has a lot of low lying vegetation and therefore the animals can be very comfortable in their habitat,” she said.
Dr Jones, who was part of the team that created the satellite images, said some of these animals could be adapted to the harsh climate of New Hampshire, where there is more moisture.
“If you have water and nutrients, they are more likely to survive in that habitat, so it’s an excellent place for them,” she explained.
But there are concerns that these species are becoming a problem in Australia, which is home to about 10,400 grassland mammals.
“They are being eaten by predators, and so it can be really challenging to manage them in that kind of environment,” Dr Jones said.
She said grasslands are being used as pasture for cattle, sheep and goats, and there is concern about how much of this land could be used for food.
“It could potentially have an impact on the health of our livestock,” she added.
“Our livestock are really at risk from what we think is the increasing threat of grassland carnivores and that’s the cattle, because of the lack of grazing on the land.”
Dr James O’Donnell, a conservation ecologist at the Australian Museum in Canberra, said grass is important for wildlife and it is important to consider how the species are managed.
“There are two different ways of managing grassland and that is the way we do it in Australia,” he said.”[One is] with intensive management, where you have to keep them on a diet that is more like grazing, and that kind a manages their population, so that they don’t become predators of wildlife.”
Dr O’Connor said grass needs to be managed in a way that does not encourage herbivores, and also to prevent animals from becoming “crazed animals”.
“They should not be allowed to wander around in the open, they should not have access to water, they shouldn’t be able to run about,” he explained.
“But they should be kept in captivity.”
Dr Jim Boulton, a researcher at the New South Zealand Department of Conservation and Forestry, said it is not clear how much the grasslands may be losing to predators.
“The only thing that we know for sure is that grasslands have been declining for the past 40 years or so, so there is not much we can do about it,” he told the ABC.
“However, there is one thing we can manage and that means protecting them, that means preventing their population growth, that is probably the best thing we could do.”
Topics:environment,environmental-impact,environment-management,agriculture,environment,nsw,australiaFirst posted September 16, 2018 17:03:07Contact Jacqueline Wood