Is the loss of Australian digging mammals contributing to a deterioration in ecosystem function?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Australia’s once common digging mammals that played an important role in ecosystem function, have been largely lost from our landscape. Around half of digging mammal species are now extinct or under conservation threat, and those that still exist have very contracted ranges.

Bioturbation (digging and scratching) significantly alters soil processes, altering the chemical and structural properties, allowing water infiltration, decreasing surface run-off/erosion, increases soil moisture and captures seed thereby increasing germination. These are just some of the ways small mammals – victims of feral predators and large scale government burns. This paper (PDF) has researched the vital role of mammals, which have now largely disappeared.