Understanding of the critical factors supporting refuge habitat for small mammals in the western Otways will inform practical management prescriptions and guidelines to support small mammal recovery in other areas, including the eastern Otways.

Conserving threatened small mammals in the Otway Ranges, Bells Beach (Ironbark Basin) and Great Ocean Road Hinterland

Field surveys using live and camera trapping have provided baseline data, filled knowledge gaps and allowed comparison with historical records across the Otways. Researchers recorded no New Holland mouse or Smoky mouse, and few White footed dunnart and Southern brown bandicoot (primarily in coastal dune and gully vegetation).

There were isolated occurrences of Long-nosed potoroo in the eastern Otways, and scat surveys indicated the presence of Broad toothed rat at a number of sites.

In the eastern Otways, Swamp antechinus were found in foredune vegetation, but few locations inland. Dune and clifftop vegetation between Anglesea and Aireys Inlet represents one of the most significant refuges in the Otway Ranges.

In the western Otways, Carlisle heathland acts as a refuge, offering complex vegetation and a limited recent fire history.

Assessment of the resilience of mammal diversity and richness in Carlisle heath will improve understanding of threatened species declines elsewhere and provide effective ways to assist species recovery.

Project outcomes are already being incorporated into pragmatic management, monitoring, and recovery plans.

Delivery & Supporting Partners

The lead consultant for this sub-project is Barbara Wilson Pty Ltd. The project delivery team includes Dr Barbara Wilson, Dr Mark Garkaklis (Barbara Wilson Pty Ltd), Dr Phoebe Burns (Zoos Victoria), Dr Jack Pascoe (Conservation Ecology Centre) and Dr John White (Deakin University).

Dr Tim Doherty (Deakin University and University of Sydney), Professor Chris Dickman (University of Sydney, NESP, Threatened Species Recovery Hub) and Professor John Woinarski (Charles Darwin University, NESP, Threatened Species Recovery Hub) will provide high level review of the project.

Mr Darcy Watchorn (PhD Research Student, Deakin University) will provide threatened mammal data from his research program in the Otways and provide input into the confirmation of critical refuge habitat in the Otways.

Linkages With Other Sub-Projects

Data sets and analyses collated and created from this project can be applied across several projects in the Wild Otways Initiative. Research on the diet, impacts and management of feral cats and foxes included in this project will improve understanding of the sensitivity of threatened mammals to cat predation with direct links with Sub-project: Fox and Cat Management.

Frequently Asked Questions:

The Australian Government’s Wild Otway initiative is a three-year $6m commitment towards threatened species management and pest animal control in the greater Otway’s region. The Initiative includes the delivery of a broad and inclusive environmental community grants program and five commissioned sub-projects, which include pig and deer eradication, fox and cat management, Phytophthora (a plant pathogen) management, small mammal conservation and rewilding in the Otways.

Australian Government Wild Otways Initiative website page will be updated regularly with more information when the on-ground works begin. Our CCMA media channels will also be an outlet for project updates. If you would like to receive our regular project Communique please subscribe below to be apart of our distribution below.


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The project area for the initiative covers the area from Jan Juc/Bells Beach to Peterborough, and the Great Otway National Park and hinterlands (Otways Region) in South West Victoria.

The initiative will be delivered in the Greater Otways region of Victoria over the next three years to June 2023.

This project is funded by the Australian Government. This project will run until 2023.

Contact Us

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64 Dennis Street, Colac VIC 3250
PO Box 159, Colac, VIC 3250
Hours: 8:30am – 5pm, Monday to Friday

T: 1800 002 262

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PO Box 159, Colac, VIC 3250

T: 1800 002 262