Don’t ignore them because they’re ugly
THEY may be ugly but rodents and bats deserve to be looked after too, according to Murdoch University associate professor Trish Fleming.
In a new paper for the journal Mammal Review, Professor Fleming and co-author Bill Bateman (Curtin University) reviewed the published literature for each of the 331 Australian mammal species.
They found all species could be grouped into three categories: the ‘ good’ (e.g. kangaroos, echidnas, koalas), the ‘ bad’ (e.g. introduced and invasive species like rabbits, cats and foxes) and the ‘ugly’ (microbats and hopping mice).
Despite making up 45 per cent of the species investigated for the study, those categorised as “ugly” had attracted little scientific attention.
“Current global and national conservation funding largely overlooks these species, and yet they may arguably be most in need of research effort,” Professor Fleming said.
“For the majority of species, researchers have been able to do little more than catalogue their existence. We need to document observations of their diets, habitat selection, space use and reproduction in order to identify threats and management options.
“Within Australia, Federal Government funding is largely directed towards investigating invasive species, and with no global funding to support biodiversity conservation research, Australian mammals face a significant plight.”
Professor Fleming also said that researchers were discouraged from investigating some of the more obscure species because resulting paper submissions were likely to be turned away by the editorial boards of the highest impact international journals for being “parochial and of limited interest.”
A native Australian ash-grey mouse - a species that deserves to be studied too.