Christopher N Johnson

Christopher N Johnson
University of Tasmania · School of Zoology

PhD

About

216
Publications
73,370
Reads
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10,701
Citations
Introduction
Skills and Expertise
Additional affiliations
January 2011 - present
University of Tasmania
January 1996 - October 2010
James Cook University
Education
March 1981 - February 1985
University of New England (Australia)
Field of study
  • Behavioural Ecology
March 1976 - October 1979
University of New England (Australia)
Field of study
  • Wildlife Ecology and Management

Publications

Publications (216)
Article
Global ecosystems underwent major changes through the Quaternary, as climates cycled from cool and dry glacial conditions to relatively warm and humid interglacial conditions. How these changes affected the diversity and composition of small-mammal communities is mostly unknown, especially for the southern-temperate regions of Australia. We used fo...
Preprint
Control of invasive predators is a priority to protect island biodiversity. Understanding the responses of other species in multi-species invaded food webs is important to avoid unintended consequences. We use an intensive two-year cat-trapping program in the vicinity of seabird colonies on Bruny Island, Tasmania, to estimate the change in densitie...
Article
Full-text available
Sleeper populations of non-native species can remain at low abundance for decades before irrupting. For over a century, fallow deer (Dama dama) in the island state of Tasmania, Australia, remained at low abundance and close to the region in which they were released. Recently, there are indications the population has increased in abundance and distr...
Preprint
Like many other Australian mammals, the eastern quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus) was widespread on the Australian mainland but went extinct there during the 20th century. The species remained abundant in Tasmania until a rapid decline occurred from 2001 to 2003, coinciding with a period of unsuitable weather. We provide an updated analysis of eastern qu...
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Full-text available
Extinctions stemming from environmental change often trigger trophic cascades and coextinctions. Bottom-up cascades occur when changes in the primary producers in a network elicit flow-on effects to higher trophic levels. However, it remains unclear what determines a species’ vulnerability to bottom-up cascades, and whether such cascades were a lar...
Article
Extinctions stemming from environmental change often trigger trophic cascades and coextinctions. Bottom–up cascades occur when changes in the primary producers in a network elicit flow-on effects to higher trophic levels. However, it remains unclear what determines a species' vulnerability to bottom–up cascades and whether such cascades were a larg...
Article
The possible role of climate change in late Quaternary animal extinctions is hotly debated, yet few studies have investigated its direct effects on animal physiology to assess whether past climate changes might have had significant impacts on now-extinct species. Here we test whether climate change could have imposed physiological stress on the Tas...
Article
Context Home-range size and population density characteristics are crucial information in the design of effective wildlife management, whether for conservation or control, but can vary widely among populations of the same species. Aims We investigate the influence of site productivity on home-range size and population density for Australian populat...
Article
Temperate woodlands are amongst the most threatened ecosystems in Australia because the land on which they occur is highly suited to agriculture. Two hundred years of habitat loss and fragmentation in the Midlands agricultural region in Tasmania have led to widespread declines in native vertebrates and landscapes with populations of predators inclu...
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Movements that extend beyond the usual space use of an animal have been documented in a range of species and are particularly prevalent in arid areas. We present long-distance movement data on five feral cats (Felis catus) GPS/VHF-collared during two different research projects in arid and semi-arid Australia. We compare these movements with data f...
Preprint
Full-text available
Sleeper populations of non-native species can remain at low abundance for decades before irrupting. For over a century, fallow deer ( Dama dama ) in the island state of Tasmania, Australia, remained at low abundance and close to the region in which they were released. Recently, there are indications the population has increased in abundance and dis...
Article
Translocation—moving individuals for release in different locations—is among the most important conservation interventions for increasing or re-establishing populations of threatened species. However, translocations often fail. To improve their effectiveness, we need to understand the features that distinguish successful from failed translocations....
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The causes of Sahul’s megafauna extinctions remain uncertain, although several interacting factors were likely responsible. To examine the relative support for hypotheses regarding plausible ecological mechanisms underlying these extinctions, we constructed the first stochastic, age-structured models for 13 extinct megafauna species from five funct...
Article
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Alien mammalian carnivores have contributed disproportionately to global loss of biodiversity. In Australia, predation by the feral cat and red fox is one of the most significant causes of the decline of native vertebrates. To discover why cats have greater impacts on prey than native predators, we compared the ecology of the feral cat to a marsupi...
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Effective monitoring of mammal species is critical to their management. Thermal cameras may enable more accurate detection of nocturnal mammals than visual observation with the aid of spotlights. We aimed to measure improvements in detection provided by thermal cameras, and to determine how these improvements depended on ambient temperatures and ma...
Preprint
Full-text available
The causes of Sahul’s megafauna extinctions remain uncertain, although multiple, interacting factors were likely responsible. To test hypotheses regarding plausible ecological mechanisms underlying these extinctions, we constructed the first stochastic, age-structured models for 13 extinct megafauna species from five functional/taxonomic groups, as...
Article
Context. Significant resources have been devoted to the control of introduced mesopredators in Australia. However, the control or removal of one pest species, such as, for example, the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), may inadvertently benefit other invasive species, namely feral cats (Felis catus) and rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), potentially jeopardis...
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Apex predators can limit the abundance and behaviour of mesopredators, thereby reducing predation on smaller species. We know less about whether native apex predators are effective in suppressing invasive mesopredators, a major global driver of vertebrate extinctions. We use the severe disease‐induced decline of an apex predator, the Tasmanian devi...
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Observing animals directly in the field provides the most accurate understanding of animal behaviour and resource selection. However, making prolonged observation of undisturbed animals is difficult or impossible for many species. To overcome this problem for the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), a cryptic and nocturnal carnivore, we develope...
Article
Sympatric species can minimise interspecific competition by spatial avoidance or by altering their temporal activity to reduce encounter rates. The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), the largest carnivorous marsupial, coexists with the smaller spotted‐tailed quoll (Dasyurus maculatus) in Tasmania, Australia. Quolls may be susceptible to inters...
Article
The control of invasive species can have cascading and at times undesirable effects on the wider ecological community. Effective management requires that the ecosystem-wide effects of removing invasive species be understood. We investigated the effects of large-scale rabbit control on the abundance (numerical response) and diet (functional response...
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Full-text available
The impacts of invasive predators can be amplified by high densities of invasive prey species. In Australia, hyper abundant rabbit populations lead to high densities of feral cats and correspondingly high impact of cats on native species, especially small mammals. Therefore, it would be expected reducing rabbits could also reduce abundance of cats,...
Article
ContextFenced reserves from which invasive predators are removed are increasingly used as a conservation management tool, because they provide safe havens for susceptible threatened species, and create dense populations of native wildlife that could act as a source population for recolonising the surrounding landscape. However, the latter effect mi...
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Full-text available
Global declines of large carnivores have reduced the ‘landscape of fear’ that constrains the behaviour of other species. In recent years, active and passive trophic rewilding have potentially begun restoring these lost top–down controls. The Tasmanian devil Sarcophilus harrisii has declined severely due to a novel transmissible cancer. In response...
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Top predators cause avoidance behaviours in competitors and prey, which can lead to niche partitioning and facilitate coexistence. We investigate changes in partitioning of the temporal niche in a mammalian community in response to both the rapid decline in abundance of a top predator and its rapid increase, produced by two concurrent natural exper...
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Full-text available
Habitat loss is a major cause of species loss and is expected to increase. Loss of habitat is often associated with fragmentation of remaining habitat. Whether species can persist in fragmented landscapes may depend on their movement behavior, which determines their capability to respond flexibility to changes in habitat structure and spatial distr...
Article
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Rewilding is a novel approach to ecological restoration. Trophic rewilding in particular aims to reinstate ecological functions, especially trophic interactions, through the introduction of animals. We consider the potential for trophic rewilding to address biological invasions. In this broad review, we note some of the important conceptual and eth...
Article
Top carnivores have suffered widespread global declines, with well-documented effects on mesopredators and herbivores. We know less about how carnivores affect ecosystems through scavenging. Tasmania's top carnivore, the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), has suffered severe disease-induced population declines, providing a natural experiment o...
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Context The classical theory of island biogeography explains loss of species in fragmented landscapes as an effect of remnant patch size and isolation. Recently this has been challenged by the habitat amount and habitat continuum hypotheses, according to which persistence in modified landscapes is related to total habitat amount rather than habitat...
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Large vertebrates affect fire regimes in several ways: by consuming plant matter that would otherwise accumulate as fuel; by controlling and varying the density of vegetation; and by engineering the soil and litter layer. These processes can regulate the frequency, intensity and extent of fire. The evidence for these effects is strongest in environ...
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The impacts of free-roaming canids (domestic and wild) on public health have long been a concern in Australian Indigenous communities. We investigated the prevalence of zoonotic helminth diseases in dogs and sympatric dingoes, and used radio telemetry to measure their spatial overlap, in an Aboriginal community in the Wet Tropics of Australia. Samp...
Article
Exotic woody plants are often used by native organisms, but may also be targets of expensive control justified by nature conservation. We determine the use of a weed of national significance, Gorse (Ulex europaeus L.), by native mammals, birds, reptiles and vascular plants in pastoral areas in an Australian biodiversity hotspot. Large numbers of fa...
Article
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Many carnivores are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation. These changes create linear features and habitat edges that can facilitate foraging and/or travel. To understand the significance of anthropogenic linear features in the ecology of carnivores, fine-scaled studies are needed. We studied two medium-sized carnivores: the endangered Tasm...
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Australia’s native marsupial fauna has just two primarily flesh-eating ‘hypercarnivores’, the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) and the spotted-tailed quoll (Dasyurus maculatus) which coexist only on the island of Tasmania. Devil populations are currently declining due to a fatal transmissible cancer. Our aim was to analyse the diet of both sp...
Data
Percent frequency occurrence (%F) and relative volume (%V) of prey items, in spotted-tailed quoll scats for each site. (PDF)
Data
Brillouin diversity index of devil (TD) and quoll (STQ) diets with increasing sample size of scats across Tasmania, Australia. (TIFF)
Data
Percent frequency occurrence (%F) and relative volume (%V) of prey items, in Tasmanian devil scats for each site. (PDF)
Article
Full-text available
Ancylostoma ceylanicum is the common hookworm of domestic dogs and cats throughout Asia, and is an emerging but little understood public health risk in tropical northern Australia. We investigated the prevalence of A. ceylanicum in soil and free-ranging domestic dogs at six rainforest locations in Far North Queensland that are Indigenous Australian...
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Dingoes (Canis dingo) in the coastal lowlands of Australia's Wet Tropics are perceived as a major threat to biodiversity and subjected to broad-spectrum lethal control. However, evidence of their impacts is equivocal, and control programmes generally ignore the ecological benefits that dingoes might provide. Previous diet analysis has shown that di...
Article
Feral cats (Felis catus) have devastated wildlife globally. In Australia, feral cats are implicated in most recent mammal extinctions and continue to threaten native species. Cat control is a high-profile priority for Australian policy, research and management. To develop the evidence-base to support this priority, we first review information on ca...
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Full-text available
Interspecific competition between sympatric carnivores can have a profound effect on the structure, function and composition of ecosystems. Interspecific competition is often asymmetrical and the smaller carnivore is usually affected the most. We investigated the behavioural responses of two native species, the larger Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus h...
Article
Full-text available
Landscape attributes often shape the spatial genetic structure of species. As the maintenance of genetic connectivity is increasingly a conservation priority, the identification of landscape features that influence connectivity can inform targeted management strategies. The northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus) is a carnivorous marsupial that has ex...
Article
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The domestic cat (Felis catus) is an invasive exotic in many locations around the world and is thought to be a key factor driving recent mammal declines across northern Australia. Many mammal species native to this region now persist only in areas with high topographic complexity, provided by features such as gorges or escarpments. Do mammals persi...
Article
The study of palaeo-chronologies using fossil data provides evidence for past ecological and evolutionary processes, and is therefore useful for predicting patterns and impacts of future environmental change. However, the robustness of inferences made from fossil ages relies heavily on both the quantity and quality of available data. We compiled Qu...
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Parasitism has both direct and indirect effects on hosts. Indirect effects (such as behavioural changes) may be common, although are often poorly described. This study examined sarcoptic mange (caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei) in the common wombat (Vombatus ursinus), a species that shows severe symptoms of infection and often causes mortality....
Data
Dataset underlying study findings of the direct and indirect effects of sarcoptic mange on common wombats (Vombatus ursinus). (DOCX)
Data
Diagram used to record mange serverity in common wombats (Vombatus ursinus) at Narawntapu National Park, Tasmania. Each segment was allocated a number (0–10) and the average of all segments gave the overall mange serverity score for each individual. Based on diagram in [33]. (TIF)
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Feral cats are normally territorial in Australia’s tropical savannahs, and hunt intensively with home-ranges only two to three kilometres across. Here we report that they also undertake expeditions of up to 12.5 km from their home ranges to hunt for short periods over recently burned areas. Cats are especially likely to travel to areas burned at hi...
Article
Full-text available
Late Quaternary megafauna extinctions impoverished mammalian diversity worldwide. The causes of these extinctions in Australia are most controversial but essential to resolve, because this continent-wide event presaged similar losses that occurred thousands of years later on other continents. Here we apply a rigorous metadata analysis and new ensem...
Data
Supplementary Figures 1-6, Supplementary Table 1, Supplementary Methods and Supplementary References
Article
Until recently in Earth history, very large herbivores (mammoths, ground sloths, diprotodons, and many others) occurred in most of the World's terrestrial ecosystems, but the majority have gone extinct as part of the late-Quaternary extinctions. How has this large-scale removal of large herbivores affected landscape structure and ecosystem function...
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Full-text available
Confidence in fossil ages is a recognized constraint for understanding changes in archaeological and palaeontological records. Poor estimates of age can lead to erroneous inferences—such as timing of species arrival, range expansions and extinctions—preventing robust hypothesis testing of the causes and consequences of past events. Therefore, age r...
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Full-text available
One of the key gaps in understanding the impacts of predation by small mammalian predators on prey is how habitat structure affects the hunting success of small predators, such as feral cats. These effects are poorly understood due to the difficulty of observing actual hunting behaviours. We attached collar-mounted video cameras to feral cats livin...