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Preventing and reversing population declines of northern quolls

Funding: 2015: $45,874
2016: $87,035
2017: $86,293
2018: $81,853
2019: $36,722

Project Member(s): Webb, J.

Funding or Partner Organisation: Australian Research Council (ARC Linkage Projects)
Territory Wildlife Park
Kakadu National Park
Department of Land Resource Management

Start year: 2015

Summary: This project seeks to develop novel effective strategies to halt and reverse declines in northern quolls by improving their `toad-smart¿ behaviour. The spread of cane toads threaten northern quolls, which are marsupial predators. We cannot halt the toad invasion, but we can train quolls not to eat cane toads. Trained quolls can survive long term in toad-infested landscapes, and their offspring can learn not to eat toads. This project builds on this work by focusing on cultural and genetic transmission of toad-smart behaviour. The project could save numerous quoll populations from extinction.


Burke, C, Burnard, D, Polkinghorne, A, Webb, J & Huston, WM 2018, 'Cloacal and Ocular Microbiota of the Endangered Australian Northern Quoll', Microorganisms, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 68-68.
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Indigo, N, Smith, J, Webb, JK & Phillips, B 2018, 'Not such silly sausages: Evidence suggests northern quolls exhibit aversion to toads after training with toad sausages', Austral Ecology, vol. 43, no. 5, pp. 592-601.
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Jolly, CJ, Webb, JK & Phillips, BL 2018, 'The perils of paradise: an endangered species conserved on an island loses antipredator behaviours within 13 generations', Biology Letters, vol. 14, no. 6, pp. 20180222-20180222.
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Burnard, D, Huston, WM, Webb, JK, Jelocnik, M, Reiss, A, Gillett, A, Fitzgibbon, S, Carver, S, Carrucan, J, Flanagan, C, Timms, P & Polkinghorne, A 2017, 'Molecular evidence of Chlamydia pecorum and arthropod-associated Chlamydiae in an expanded range of marsupials', Scientific Reports, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 1-9.
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Cremona, T, Crowther, MS & Webb, JK 2017, 'High mortality and small population size prevent population recovery of a reintroduced mesopredator', Animal Conservation, vol. 20, no. 6, pp. 555-563.
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Cremona, T, Spencer, P, Shine, R & Webb, JK 2017, 'Avoiding the last supper: parentage analysis indicates multi-generational survival of re-introduced ‘toad-smart’ lineage', Conservation Genetics, vol. 18, no. 6, pp. 1475-1480.
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Tingley, R, Ward-Fear, G, Schwarzkopf, L, Greenlees, MJ, Phillips, BL, Brown, G, Clulow, S, Webb, J, Capon, R, Sheppard, A, Strive, T, Tizard, M & Shine, R 2017, 'New Weapons in the Toad Toolkit: A Review of Methods to Control and Mitigate the Biodiversity Impacts of Invasive Cane Toads (Rhinella Marina)', The Quarterly Review of Biology, vol. 92, no. 2, pp. 123-149.
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FOR Codes: Conservation and Biodiversity, Wildlife and Habitat Management, Biological Adaptation, Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Development and Welfare, Conservation and biodiversity , Coastal or estuarine biodiversity