The cute little helper who keeps our gardens and bush healthy

The cute little helper who keeps our gardens and bush healthy

Credit: Pixabay / CC0 public domain

Quenda is helping keep Perth’s native urban bush and our native gardens healthy, according to new research from Edith Cowan University.

Quenda is a native marsupial and a member of the bandicoot family found in the parks and bush around the Metropolitan Perth area.

They dig more tons of soil each year and by producing small pits and incorporating leaf and seed litter, they improve the conditions for the growth and development of native plants.

In a recent survey of these urban creatures, researchers analyzed the variety of fungi contained in quenda droppings found in the native bush.

Fungi play a key role in helping native vegetation, including eucalyptus trees, absorb water and nutrients.

Ecosystem engineers

Lead researcher Dr Anna Hopkins said the research team was surprised to discover that quenda poop found in smaller bush areas contained a greater variety of fungi.

“Our results could indicate that quenda from these small bush areas venture into gardens, yards or even trash and rubbish bins surrounding their natural habitats,” she said.

“We know that quenda play an incredibly important role as ecosystem engineers, digging, eating and spreading important fungi in the native bush we have around Perth.

“The wide variety of mushrooms that we have found is great news for our gardens, as it indicates that quenda venture into gardens around their natural habitats in search of food.

“Walking quenda disperse fungi through their droppings, which enter the soil to colonize plant roots, and can then help plants take up nutrients and water.”

Dr Hopkins said the research has provided important insight into how quenda indicate the health of the native urban bush in Perth.

“Quenda provides this visible and accessible link to the health of the bush, people can see them and see their digging and evidence of them all around the bush here in Perth – and even in our backyards,” a- she declared.

The project included researchers from Murdoch University, the University of Western Australia, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, and the town of Mandurah.

“The size of urban remains alters the fungal functional groups dispersed by a digging animal” has been published in Biodiversity and conservation and can be viewed on the journal’s web page.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if they are in my garden or in the local park?

The Quenda are avid diggers and hunt for fungi, bulbs, plant roots, earthworms, and other invertebrates. You’ll notice that the holes they dig have a distinctive conical shape that mirrors the shape of a quenda’s head, while the piles of dirt they dig are also easily identifiable.

What can I do to encourage / help the quendas living in my neighborhood?

Dr Hopkins said providing habitat for quendas is very important, which means dense native vegetation.

“One of their favorite habitats is the edge of seagrass beds, they shelter there during the day and create small paths to move around,” she said.

“You can also help by keeping your cats indoors at night.”


Native marsupial helps revive urban bush in north Perth


More information:
Anna JM Hopkins et al, The size of urban remains alters fungal functional groups dispersed by a digging mammal, Biodiversity and conservation (2021). DOI: 10.1007 / s10531-021-02287-4

Provided by Edith Cowan University

Quote: Quendas: The cute little helper who keeps our gardens and bush healthy (2022, January 10) retrieved January 10, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-01-quendas-cute-helper-gardens -bushland.html

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