Wildlife Australia, December 1996
ISBN 0 6422 1395 X
The taxonomy used in this Action Plan generally follows Walton (1988) for Australian families, genera and species. Recognition of the families Pseudocheiridae and Acrobatidae follow Smith (1984) and Aplin and Archer (1987) respectively, while Peroryctidae and Peramelidae are the only recognised families of perameloids (Groves and Flannery 1990).
Subspecies have been included where they meet the definition in the Commonwealth Endangered Species Protection Act 1992:
"subspecies" means a geographically separate population of a species, being a population that is characterised by morphological or biological differences from other populations of that species.
Subspecies recognised by Walton have been included for the Phalangeridae, Pseudocheiridae, Petauridae and Burramyidae. Geographically separate populations recognised as distinct subspecies in this Action Plan follow authors in Strahan (1995), except where indicated herein. Subspecies boundaries are also discussed briefly in Recovery Outlines.
Some urgent taxonomic research is needed to clarify the status of populations of conservation concern. This is particularly so for the marsupial moles Notoryctes, the genus Dasycercus and the Boullanger Island Dunnart Sminthopsis griseoventer undescribed subspecies.
Taxonomic decisions and questions
Variations from the taxonomy of Walton (1988) and comments on taxonomy are as follows:
Three subspecies of Antechinus flavipes and three of A. swainsonii have been included, as shown in Strahan (1995). The taxonomic status of A. s. insulanus needs investigation. Two subspecies of A. stuartii are currently recognised (S. Van Dyck, pers. comm.).
Antechinus sp. (Agile Antechinus) from southern Victoria and south-eastern NSW, identified by Dickman et al. (1988), has been included although it has not yet been formally described.
Dasycercus was recognised by Jones (1923) as containing two species, D. cristicauda and D. hillieri, but these were later synonymised (see Walton 1988). Recent work at the South Australian Museum has confirmed the original assessment of two species and indicated that there may be an additional taxon from the Pilbara of WA (M. Adams, pers. comm.), which may be referrable to D. blighi (Woodward, 1902) (D. blythi (Waite, 1904) is based on the same specimens as D. blighi, see Walton 1988). In this Action Plan D. hillieri and D. cristicauda are treated as separate species. The taxonomic status of the Pilbara population needs clarification.
Allocation of the 'false antechinuses' to Dasykaluta, Parantechinus and Pseudantechinus follows Archer (1982), with the addition of two newly described taxa, Ps. woolleyae Kitchener and Caputi, 1988 and Ps. ningbing Kitchener, 1988, as well as Ps. mimulus (Thomas, 1906) which was rediscovered, and redescribed by Kitchener (1991), except that bilarni is allocated to Pseudantechinus rather than Parantechinus.
Two subspecies of Dasyurus maculatus and Phascogale tapoatafa are recognised in Strahan (1995).
The taxonomic status of Tasmanian Dasyurus viverrinus versus the extinct mainland populations has not been determined.
The Boullanger Island form of the Dibbler, Parantechinus apicalis, is significantly larger than animals from the south coast of WA. The taxonomic status of this population (which occurs also on the adjacent Whitlock Island) is in need of clarification.
There are morphological and size differences between WA and eastern States specimens of Phascogale t. tapoatafa (S. Rhind, pers. comm.). When taxonomic research into this species is conducted, the status of P. t. pirata should also be examined.
The subspecies Planigale maculata sinualis (Thomas 1926) has been described from Groote Eylandt but Archer (1976) suggested that, while it is a recognisable form, it should not be accorded subspecific status. A population of P. maculata on Barrow Island would have been isolated for a similar length of time. Neither of these are included in the taxonomic list in this Action Plan; however further taxonomic research seems warranted.
The taxonomic and conservation status of Sminthopsis fuliginosus (Gould, 1852) (see Kitchener et al. 1984), which has not been included in this Action Plan because it is not possible to understand its status in the wild, needs urgent clarification.
Sminthopsis bindi Van Dyck, Woinarski and Press, 1994 is a newly described species.
The status of the north Queensland population of Sminthopsis leucopus (Van Dyck 1985) requires clarification.
L. Lim (pers. comm.) collected a single specimen of a Sminthopsis, believed to represent a new taxon, from near Pilliga (NSW), but no formal identification or description has been published. The specimen most closely resembles S. ooldea. This form has not been included in this Action Plan.
The taxon of Sminthopsis on Boullanger Island (WA) has not been formally described, but genetic analysis by Lynam (1987) indicated it is probably at least a subspecies of S. griseoventer, and perhaps a separate species. Its taxonomic status is urgently in need of clarification.
Preliminary genetic analysis (Robinson et al. 1993) of Victorian and Tasmanian populations of Perameles gunnii indicates that they probably warrant subspecific status and they have been treated as separate subspecies in this Action Plan.
Isoodon obesulus from the south-west of Western Australia is treated here as subspecies I. o. fusciventer. A pilot genetic study suggests that the major distinction is not between WA and SA, but between populations east of the Murray Basin and those further west (M. Adams, unpublished). More research is needed into the boundary between I. o. fusciventer and I. o. obesulus. A population of Isoodon obesulus occurs on Daw Island (212 ha) in the Archipelago of the Recherche, WA. In this Action Plan, this population is included with I. o. fusciventer. A specimen collected in 1982, when examined electrophoretically, differed by a number of loci from 'standard' obesulus (P. Baverstock pers. comm. to N.L. McKenzie). The population may, therefore, be distinct at the subspecies level, as is the case with I. o. nauticus. Further research is needed to clarify the taxonomic status of the Daw Island population.
Taxonomic work has identified three distinct morphological variants of marsupial mole (K. Aplin, pers. comm.). This confirmed the validity of both described species, and two allopatric subspecies of Notoryctes typhlops have been identified. Both formally described species have been included in this Action Plan pending additional taxonomic research and publication of results. Clarification of taxonomic boundaries within Notoryctes is urgent.
There is some morphological variability within the Koala, which led to the description of several taxa in the past. This variability should be assessed using modern molecular genetics techniques.
The Potorous recently rediscovered in the south-west of WA has been assigned to P. gilbertii Gould, 1841. Taxonomic research currently under way at the Zoology Department, The University of Western Australia, is aimed at clarifying the status of the population. Results indicate that it is a separate species (E. Sinclair and M. Westerman in prep.). Examination of the type and other material supports this conclusion (J. Courtenay pers. comm.).
Populations of Potorous tridactylus are found on Bass Strait islands (Flinders, Hunter, and King) as well as some islands adjacent to Tasmania (Maria, Bruny and De Witt). In this Action Plan these have been assumed to belong to P. t. apicalis, which was assessed as Lower Risk (least concern). However, Johnston and Sharman (1976) present evidence that suggests that the Bass Strait populations are closer in some respects to P. t. tridactylus. The taxonomic status of these populations should be investigated.
The type of Bettongia lesueur is from Dirk Hartog Island (where it is locally extinct). Specimens from Bernier and Dorre Islands differ from those from mainland WA. The relationship of the Dirk Hartog Island population to other populations has not been resolved (K. Aplin, WA Museum, pers. comm.); in this Action Plan it is assumed to be the same taxon as the populations on Bernier and Dorre Islands. We have used B. l. lesueur (Quoy and Gaimard, 1824) for Shark Bay islands and B. l. graii (Gould, 1841), described from Swan River, for other mainland animals. Barrow Island animals show major morphological differences from those of Shark Bay and elsewhere and have been placed in a different, undescribed, subspecies in this Action Plan. There are sub-fossil sympatric specimens of Barrow Island and Bernier and Dorre forms from the Montebello Islands, so these two taxa may represent different species (K. Aplin, pers. comm.). Examination of mitochondrial DNA variation between Barrow Island and Bernier Island animals by Young (1995) suggested that the populations were genetically differentiated, but not sufficiently so to be considered distinct at the species or subspecies level. More work is needed to clarify the infra-specific taxonomy of this species.
Recent taxonomic research into Lagorchestes hirsutus has confirmed the validity of the three formerly described subspecies (L. h. hirsutus, L. h. bernieri and L. h. dorreae), and suggested that the central Australian form is a separate, fourth, subspecies (J. Courtenay, pers. comm.). All four have been included in this Action Plan.
The former range of the Tammar Wallaby Macropus eugenii included semi-arid areas of the south-west of WA and SA, five WA islands and four SA islands. They remain on all five WA islands (East and West Wallabi (Houtman Abrolhos), Garden, Middle and North Twin Peaks), and are abundant on Kangaroo Island in SA. There are remnant populations on the south-west mainland of WA, but Tammars are probably extinct on mainland SA and three SA islands (Flinders, St Peter and Thistle). There are introduced populations in New Zealand.
The type locality is St Peter Island, where it is extinct. Names are available for some, but not all, extant populations. Morphometric research supported three groupings: a WA population (including islands), a Kangaroo Island group and a New Zealand Group which appears most closely related to SA mainland animals (Poole et al. 1991).
Unpublished genetic research generally supports the Poole et al. conclusions. As well, results of attempts at interbreeding WA and SA Tammars indicate that production of F1 hybrids is not as successful as producing pure within 'subspecies' progeny (L. McKenzie and D. Cooper, unpublished). These studies have concluded that WA and SA Tammars are genetically and reproductively distinct and are either distantly related subspecies or closely related species.
In this Action Plan, for the purpose of assigning conservation status only, we have assigned subspecies names to populations as follows: SA mainland and islands except Kangaroo Island to Macropus eugenii eugenii (Desmarest, 1817); WA populations to M. e. derbianus (Gray, 1837); and Kangaroo Island population (and populations introduced from there) to M. e. decres Troughton, 1941.
Taxonomy of Petrogale (including subspecies and geographic races) follows Eldridge and Close (1993). This includes P. coenensis, P. mareeba and P. sharmani, new species described by Eldridge and Close (1992), and recognition of P. herberti as a full species (formerly P. penicillata herberti). P. lateralis purpureicollis is now generally accepted as a distinct species (A.C.C. Wilson and M.D.B. Eldridge unpublished), but a formal description has not yet been published.
Petrogale concinna is here recognised as comprising two subspecies, P. c. concinna from the Victoria River to the central north coast of Arnhem Land (NT) and P. c. monastria from the north west Kimberley (WA). The type locality of P. c. canescens Thomas, 1909 lies within the range of P. c. concinna and there are no records of the species from the area shown as being occupied by canescens by Sanson (1995).
The taxonomic status of populations of Thylogale billardieri on the mainland (where it is extinct), on Bass Strait islands and in Tasmania has not been examined.
Subspecies within Trichosurus vulpecula follow Kerle et al. (1991), who indicate there is insufficient evidence to distinguish T. v. johnstonii from T. v. vulpecula.
The separate north Qld population, known as the Fluffy Glider, is allocated to Petaurus australis reginae Thomas, 1923 in Russell (1995). The type of reginae is from Gin Gin, which lies within the more or less continuous range of P. a. australis. We have treated the north Qld population as an undescribed subspecies.
Petaurus gracilis (de Vis, 1883) was recently rediscovered, and has been redescribed by Van Dyck (1993).
Assignment of taxa to genera follows Strahan (1995). Two subspecies of Petauroides volans have been described, but because they have contiguous distributions, we have not treated them as separate subspecies in this Action Plan. McKay (1995) states that it is possible that these forms represent distinct species; this needs investigation.