|Habitat and Ecology:|
The Greater Glider is an arboreal marsupial, largely restricted to eucalypt forests and woodlands. It is primarily folivorous, with a diet mostly comprising eucalypt leaves, and occasionally flowers (Kehl and Borsboom 1984; Kavanagh and Lambert 1990; van der Ree et al. 2004). Highest abundance is typically in taller, montane, moist eucalypt forests, with relatively old trees and abundant hollows (Andrews et al. 1994; Smith et al. 1994a,b; Kavanagh 2000; Eyre 2004; van der Ree et al. 2004; Vanderduys et al. 2012). The distribution may be patchy even in suitable habitat (Kavanagh 2000). The Greater Glider favours forests with a diversity of eucalypt species, due to seasonal variation in preference for food tree species (Kavanagh 1984).
During the day it shelters in tree hollows, with a particular selection for large hollows in large, old trees (Henry 1984; Kehl and Borsboom 1984; Lindenmayer et al. 1991; Smith et al. 2007; Goldingay 2012). In Grafton/Casino, Urbenville and Urunga/Coffs Harbour Forestry Management Areas (FMAs) in northern New South Wales, the abundance of Greater Gliders on survey sites was significantly greater on sites with a higher abundance of tree hollows (Andrews et al. 1994; Smith et al. 1994a,b). In the Grafton/Casino FMA, the Greater Glider was absent from surveyed sites with fewer than six tree hollows per hectare (Smith et al. 1994a). In southern Queensland, Greater Gliders need at least 2-4 live den trees for every 2 ha of suitable forest habitat (Eyre 2002).
Home ranges are typically relatively small (1-4 ha: Henry 1984; Kehl and Borsboom 1984; Comport et al. 1996; Gibbons and Lindenmayer 2002; Pope et al. 2005), but are larger in lower productivity forests and more open woodlands (to 16 ha: Eyre 2004; Smith et al. 2007), and larger for males than for females (Kavanagh and Wheeler 2004; Pope et al. 2005), with male home ranges being largely non-overlapping (Henry 1984; Kavanagh and Wheeler 2004; Pope et al. 2005).
The Greater Glider is considered to be particularly sensitive to forest clearance (Tyndale-Biscoe and Smith 1969a), and to intensive logging (Kavanagh and Bamkin 1995; Kavanagh and Webb 1998; Kavanagh and Wheeler 2004; Kavanagh et al. 1995), although responses vary according to landscape context and the extent of tree removal and retention (Kavanagh 2000; Taylor et al. 2007). The Greater Glider is also sensitive to wildfire (Lunney 1987; Andrews et al. 1994; Lindenmayer et al. 2011), and slow to recover following major disturbance (Kavanagh 2004). In Urbenville FMA of northern New South Wales, the abundance of Greater Gliders on survey sites was significantly greater in forests that were infrequently burnt (Andrews et al. 1994).
Notwithstanding relatively small home ranges, but in part because of low dispersal ability, Greater Gilders may be sensitive to fragmentation (Eyre 2006; McCarthy and Lindenmayer 1999ab; Lindenmayer et al. 2000; Taylor and Goldingay 2009), have relatively low persistence in small forest fragments, and disperse poorly across vegetation that is not native forest. Modelling suggests that they need native forest patches of at least 160 km2 to maintain viable populations (Eyre 2002).
Females give birth to a single young, from March to June (Tyndale-Biscoe and Smith 1969b; McKay 2008). Sexual maturity is reached in the second year (Tyndale-Biscoe and Smith 1969b). Longevity has been estimated at 15 years (Harris and Maloney 2010), so generation length is 7-8 years. The relatively low reproductive rate (Henry 1984) may render small isolated populations in small remnants prone to extinction (van der Ree 2004; Pope et al. 2005).