David M Forsyth

David M Forsyth
New South Wales Department of Primary Industries · Vertebrate Pest Research Unit

Bachelor of Science (Hons.), PhD

About

190
Publications
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Introduction

Publications

Publications (190)
Preprint
Background Infections with the coccidian parasite Neospora caninum affect domestic and wild animals worldwide. In Australia, N. caninum infections cause considerable losses to the cattle industry, but livestock infection source is contentious. Similarly, the role of wild animals, such as wild deer and kangaroos, in maintaining the parasite cycle is...
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Context. Vehicle-based shooting has been widely used to kill deer, but the animal-welfare outcomes of this technique have not been evaluated in Australasia. Aim. To assess the animal-welfare outcomes of peri-urban deer culling by quantifying the fates of deer seen and shot at, the duration of procedures, and the number and location of bullet wounds...
Article
Estimating the abundance and density of mountain ungulates is difficult because of rugged and remote terrain, high elevations, and rapidly changing weather. Helicopter surveys could overcome these problems, but researchers have seldom applied helicopter‐based survey methods at large spatial scales in mountain terrain. We used helicopters to count i...
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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...
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A central goal of ecology is to understand how environmental variation affects populations. Long-term studies of marked individuals can quantify the effects of environmental variation on key life-history traits. We monitored the survival and growth of 336 individually marked juvenile eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus), a large herbivore li...
Preprint
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Benefits of invasive species management for terrestrial biodiversity are widely expected and promoted in New Zealand. Evidence for this is presented in policy and scientific reviews of the literature, but the robustness and repeatability of the underpinning evidence-base remains poorly understood. We evaluated the design of field-based studies asse...
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Globally, many wild deer populations are actively studied or managed for conservation, hunting, or damage mitigation purposes. These studies require reliable estimates of population state parameters, such as density or abundance, with a level of precision that is fit for purpose. Such estimates can be difficult to attain for many populations that o...
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Deer are key components of many ecosystems and estimating deer abundance or density is critical to understanding these roles. Many field methods have been used to estimate deer abundance and density, but the factors determining where, when, and why a method was used, and its usefulness, have not been investigated. We systematically reviewed journal...
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Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are the remnants of past retroviral infections that once invaded the host’s germline and were vertically transmitted. ERV sequences have been reported in mammals, but their distribution and diversity in cervids are unclear. Using next-generation sequencing, we identified a nearly complete genome of an endogenous betar...
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Context: Of the six species of non-native deer present in Australia, the sambar deer is the largest and has been identified as a major threat to high-elevation peatlands in south-eastern Australia. However, little is known about sambar deer activity in high-elevation peatlands. Aims: The aims of this study were to quantify sambar deer activity (inc...
Article
Context Helicopter-based shooting has been widely used to kill deer in Australasia, but the animal welfare outcomes of this technique have not been evaluated. Aim To assess the animal welfare outcomes of helicopter-based shooting of deer in Australia by quantifying the fates of deer seen and shot at, the duration of procedures and the number and lo...
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The use of high-throughput sequencing has facilitated virus discovery in wild animals and helped determine their potential threat to humans and other animals. We report the complete genome sequence of a novel picornavirus identified by next-generation sequencing in faeces from Australian fallow deer. Genomic analysis revealed that this virus posses...
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ContextSafe and effective capture methods are crucial for improving our understanding and management of many wildlife species. The adaptation of established capture methods to novel situations requires critical evaluation because differences in environmental conditions and species’ susceptibility to trauma and capture myopathy can produce unexpecte...
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Picobirnaviruses (PBVs) have been detected in several species of animals worldwide; however, data pertaining to their presence in Australian wild and domestic animals are limited. Although PBVs are mostly found in faecal samples, their detection in blood and respiratory tract samples raises questions concerning their tropism and pathogenicity. We r...
Article
Context. Helicopter darting has been used to capture wild deer, but this method has never been used for chital deer (Axis axis). Aim. The aims of this study were to develop, assess and refine a helicopter darting technique for wild chital deer in northern Australia by quantifying: (1) reliable pharmacological doses for immobilisation; (2) the effic...
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Wild animals are natural reservoir hosts for a variety of pathogens that can be transmitted to other wildlife, livestock, other domestic animals, and humans. Wild deer (family Cervidae) in Europe, Asia, and North and South America have been reported to be infected with gastrointestinal and vector-borne parasites. In Australia, wild deer populations...
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
Full-text available
When the fitness costs and benefits of sons and daughters differ, offspring sex ratio manipulation could be an important reproductive tactic. We explored the effects of environment and maternal caring ability on offspring sex to test four adaptive sex ratio modification hypotheses: the extrinsic modification hypothesis (EMH), carrying capacity hypo...
Article
Overabundant herbivorous mammals can increase the mortality rates of preferred food species, causing long-term changes to plant communities. When lethal control of the herbivore is not possible, fertility control is often advocated as a management solution. There is, however, little empirical evidence that fertility control is a viable option for m...
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Abstract 1. There is a global need for observation systems that deliver regular, timely data on state and trends in biodiversity, but few have been implemented, and fewer still at national scales. We describe the implementation of measurement of Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) on an 8 km × 8 km grid throughout New Zealand, with multiple com...
Article
In response to health threats posed by toxic lead to humans and scavenging wildlife, there is currently a focus on transitioning from lead‐based to lead‐free bullets for shooting (harvesting, culling, or recreational hunting) of wild animals. However, the efficacy of lead‐free bullets for shooting small mammals has seldom been evaluated. We compare...
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We looked at the likelihood of exposure to lead bullet fragments by scavenging birds in south-eastern Australia. We used shot carcasses monitored with camera traps and quantified to what extent scavenging birds were consuming the carcasses and therefor their likely exposure to lead ingestion.
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Since deer were introduced into Australia in the mid-1800s, their wild populations have increased in size and distribution, posing a potential risk to the livestock industry, through their role in pathogen transmission cycles. In comparison to livestock, there are limited data on viral infections in all wildlife, including deer. The aim of this stu...
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Life history theory predicts trade-offs in allocation between survival, maintenance, growth, and reproduction, especially when resources are scarce. Individual variation in resource acquisition can affect trade-offs, but is often unaccounted for. We quantified the fitness costs of reproduction, accounting for environmental conditions, maternal char...
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Unfortunately, the online publication contained an error in the "Data availability statement" and it is corrected by this erratum.
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Apex predators can have substantial and complex ecological roles in ecosystems. However, differences in species‐specific traits, population densities, and interspecific interactions are likely to determine the strength of apex predators’ roles. Here we report complementary studies examining how interactions between predator per capita metabolic rat...
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Context Ground-based shooting is widely used in management programs aiming to alleviate the impacts of invasive or overabundant wildlife populations. However, evaluations of individual shooting operations have shown variable results, and the effectiveness of ground-shooting as a population-management intervention has not been systematically examine...
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Flightless birds were once the largest and heaviest terrestrial fauna on many archipelagos around the world. Robust approaches for estimating their population parameters are essential for understanding prehistoric insular ecosystems and extinction processes. Body mass and population density are negatively related for extant flightless bird species,...
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Identifying landscape features and processes that facilitate the persistence of populations is particularly important for invasive mammal species, because it can focus management interventions on relatively small areas. We used camera traps to test predictions concerning the relative abundance of invading chital deer (Axis axis) on seven cattle ran...
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Wild mammalian herbivores can compete with domestic livestock and damage other types of production systems. We reviewed damage by wild mammalian herbivores, excluding rodents, to primary production in New Zealand and assessed whether primary producers alter stocking rates in response to changes in forage availability following pest control. Given t...
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Multi‐strain, host‐disease dynamics describe a system where multiple strains of a pathogen compete for susceptible individuals of a single host. The theoretical properties of these systems have been well studied, but there are few empirical studies in wildlife hosts. We examined the impacts of two novel strains of rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus...
Poster
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Results from the published paper Forage availability and maternal characteristics affect reproductive costs in a large marsupial. Presented in Turku (Finland) at the 2019 conference of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB). Also presented in Montréal (QC, Canada) at the 2019 annual meeting of the Quebec Science for Biodiversity Centr...
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Estimating population abundances, densities, and interspecific interactions are common goals in wildlife management. Camera traps have been used to estimate the abundance and density of a single species, and are useful for carnivores that occur at low densities. Spatial capture–recapture (SCR) models can be used to estimate abundance and density fr...
Article
With ongoing introductions into Australia since the 1700s, the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) has become one of the most widely distributed and abundant vertebrate pests, adversely impacting Australia's biodiversity and agro‐economy. To better understand the population and range dynamics of the species and its impacts, occurrence and abund...
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There is increasing scrutiny of the animal welfare impacts of all animal use activities, including agriculture, the keeping of companion animals, racing and entertainment, research and laboratory use, and wildlife management programs. A common objective of animal welfare monitoring is to quantify the frequency of adverse animal events (e.g., injuri...
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Six non-native deer species have established wild populations in Australia, and most are expanding in distribution and abundance. There is therefore increasing focus on the need to understand and manage these species. Capturing and immobilising wild deer is essential for many research and management applications, but the best methods for doing this...
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Loss of dispersal typifies island biotas, but the selective processes driving this phenomenon remain contentious. This is because selection via, both indirect (e.g. relaxed selection or island syndromes) and direct (e.g. natural selection or spatial sorting) processes may be involved, and no study has yet convincingly distinguished between these al...
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1. Invasive mammalian predators commonly coexist with invasive mammalian herbivore prey. Managers often advocate controlling invasive prey in the belief that this will also reduce invasive predator abundance. Such an outcome would have desirable ecological and financial benefits, but there have been few tests of this hypothesis. 2. We used large-sc...
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• Conserving large carnivores is controversial because they can threaten wildlife, human safety, and livestock production. Since large carnivores often have large ranges, effective management requires knowledge of how their ecology and functional roles vary biogeographically. • We examine continental‐scale patterns in the diet of the dingo – Austra...
Article
1.Applied ecologists are often interested in understanding the effects of management on ecological systems. If management (treatment) is applied non‐randomly, as occurs in observational studies, then analysis must account for the potential confounding caused by variables that could have influenced both treatment assignment and the outcome of intere...
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The factors affecting variation in the abundances of invasive mammal species have seldom been evaluated at large spatial scales. We used data collected in a large-scale biodiversity monitoring program to identify variables predicting abundances of common brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula; ‘possum’), a marsupial folivore introduced to New Zea...
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The Department of Conservation has implemented a Biodiversity and Monitoring Reporting System (BMRS) that estimates occupancy rates and relative abundances of introduced brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) at a representative sample of sites on public conservation land. Leg-hold traps have been used to monitor possums in the BMRS, but wax tag...
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The dingo (Canis dingo or C. familiaris, including hybrids with feral dogs) is the apex carnivore on mainland Australia. Fifteen non-native ungulate species have established wild populations in Australia. Dingoes are managed to reduce impacts on domestic ungulates, and introduced wild ungulates are managed to reduce impacts on natural ecosystems an...
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There has long been debate regarding the primacy of bottom-up and top-down effects as factors shaping ecosystems. The exploitation ecosystems hypothesis (EEH) predicts that predators indirectly benefit plants because their top-down effects limit herbivores’ consumption of plants, and that the strength of trophic cascade increases with increasing pr...
Article
Context There is concern that deer are shifting forests towards undesirable trajectories, and culling of deer is often advocated to mitigate these impacts. However, culling deer is expensive and sometimes controversial. To reliably ascertain whether such action is beneficial, management-scale experiments are needed. We conducted a management experi...
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Environmental variation affects foraging decisions and resources available for allocation among competing life-history traits. In seasonal environments, variation in breeding phenology leads to differences in relative timing of resource intake and expenditure, which can lead to variation in maternal allocation tactics. Monitoring maternal allocatio...
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The main component of mammalian maternal care is milk production. We investigated individual differences in milk composition and offspring survival in wild eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus). We analyzed total protein and lipid concentrations in 103 milk samples from 91 females over two years. Females nursing in late winter produced milk w...
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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In 2003, a review of how introduced mammals were managed as pests in New Zealand was published. Since then trends for the control of these mammals include moves from pest-by-pest prioritisation towards site-based and multiple-pest management, extension of large-scale aerial control of predators to include beech forests, increasing intensive managem...
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Ungulates have been widely introduced to new locations, often increasing to high densities that impact on native plant communities. Himalayan tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus) were introduced to New Zealand in 1904 and now occupy about 9600 km2 of the Southern Alps. Managers aim to control tahr to reduce impacts to native montane grasslands. We used a n...
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Context: Helicopter shooting is an effective tool for reducing feral horse (Equus caballus) populations that are considered overabundant. However, this tool has been less commonly used in recent years because of concerns about animal-welfare outcomes, which have not previously been quantified. Aims: The aims of the present study were to assess the...