Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Vulnerable as Bettongia lesueur unnamed subsp.
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, included on the Commenced List (1/11/2009).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans Western Barred Bandicoot Perameles bougainville, Burrowing Bettong Bettongia lesueur and Banded Hare-Wallaby Lagostrophus fasciatus National Recovery Plan (Richards, J.D., 2012a) [Recovery Plan] as Bettongia lesueur unnamed subsp..
 
Other EPBC Act Plans Threat Abatement Plan for predation by feral cats (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2008zzp) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by the European Red Fox (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2008zzq) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Policy Statements and Guidelines Survey guidelines for Australia's threatened mammals. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.5 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011j) [Admin Guideline].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument] as Bettongia lesueur unnamed subsp..
 
Non-government
    Documents and Websites
The action plan for threatened Australian macropods 2011-2021 (World Wildlife Fund for Nature - Australia (WWF), 2011).
State Listing Status
WA: Listed as Vulnerable (Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (Western Australia): September 2013 list) as Bettongia lesueur ssp. (WAM M10733)
Scientific name Bettongia lesueur unnamed subsp. [66660]
Family Potoroidae:Diprotodonta:Mammalia:Chordata:Animalia
Species author  
Infraspecies author  
Reference  
Other names Bettongia lesueur ssp. (WAM M10733) [84898]
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images
http://www.dwe.csiro.au/research/progc/threatened_species/bettongs.htm ;
http://petroleumclub.q-net.net.au//kid2kid/barrow9.htm

The current conservation status of the Barrow and Boodie Islands subspecies of the Burrowing Bettong, Bettongia lesueur unnamed subspecies, under Australian and State Government legislation and international convention, is as follows:

National: Listed as Vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Western Australia: Listed as Vulnerable under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950.

International: Listed as Near Threatened as Bettongia lesueur under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN 2010).

Scientific name: Bettongia lesueur unnamed subspecies

Common name: Burrowing Bettong (Barrow and Boodie Islands)

The subspecies is conventionally accepted (AFD 2010b), and studies into the taxonomic identity of the unnamed subspecies are completed but yet to be written (Short n.d. pers. comm. cited in WWF 2011).

The Barrow and Boodie Islands subspecies of the Burrowing Bettong is a compact marsupial with grey fur, and a ventral surface that tends to be lighter. Legs, feet and tail are yellowish in colour. It has short, rounded ears, grows to 28 cm in length and has a fat tail which grows to 21.5 cm in length. In some animals, the tail has a distinctive white tip (Strahan 1998).

The Barrow and Boodie Island subspecies is the smallest of three subspecies: the mainland subspecies, now extinct; the Shark Bay subspecies; and the Barrow and Boodie Islands subspecies. Mainland individuals were the largest (Short & Turner 1999 cited in Richards 2007; Strahan 1998).

The Burrowing Bettong is the only macropod to construct and live in a burrow system. Whilst the species is nocturnal, social and omnivorous (Richards 2007), it forages alone (Sander et al. 1997).

The Barrow and Boodie Islands subspecies of the Burrowing Bettong occur on the aforementioned islands off Western Australia. The small population on Boodie Island was reintroduced from nearby Barrow Island in the 1990s after the death of the last individuals on Boodie Island in 1985 during a poisoning campaign targeting the Black Rat (Rattus rattus) (Burbidge 1999; Short & Turner 1993).

The Burrowing Bettong also exists as a different subspecies on Bernier and Dorre Islands in Shark Bay, Western Australia with reintroductions to Heirisson Prong in Shark Bay, and Yookamurra Sanctuary and Roxby Downs, South Australia (see SPRAT profile for Shark Bay subspecies).

The total extent of occurrence of the Barrow and Boodie Island subspecies of the Burrowing Bettong is approximately 233 km² (Short & Turner 1991). The total area of Barrow and Boodie Islands combined is 23 503 hectares (Ecosure 2009).

Surveys of the Barrow and Boodie Islands subspecies have been opportunistic (Richards 2007).

There are an estimated 3400 individuals on Barrow Island and 200 on Boodie Island (Richards 2007).

The Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation (WA DEC) manages Boodie and Barrow Islands as nature reserves (Richards 2007).

Burrowing Bettongs live in extensive burrow systems or warrens generally located under limestone caprock on higher ground (Burbidge 1995; Short & Turner 1993), though sandy areas are also used with simpler burrow construction (Sander et al. 1997).

Barrow Island is a small limestone island dominated by Triodia grasslands (Short & Turner 1991). The distribution of the subspecies across Barrow Island is limited to areas where nearby sites for construction of warrens are available. Rocky substrate areas are avoided (Short & Turner 1994, cited in Richards 2007). Warren systems on Barrow Island have been recorded as extensive, with up to 90 openings and 20–40 bettongs inhabiting these warrens, suggesting a defense mechanism against predation (Sander et al. 1997).

The former distribution of the Burrowing Bettong indicates a wider variety of open habitat was utilised (Seebeck et al. 1989 cited in Richards 2007). Suggested former habitat includes the Triodia desert, sandhill and claypan country and saltbush scrub on limestone karst (Finlayson 1958; Jones 1923; Short 1999a cited in Richards 2007).

Burrowing Bettongs are considered gregarious, sharing warrens or daytime shelter. Often one male is found with many females, or travels to numerous warrens containing females. Females often share with other females but males not with other males. Males can be aggressive in defending females, though it is uncertain if they defend a defined territory (Sander et al. 1997).

Burrowing Bettongs reintroduced to Scotia Sanctuary have been shown to utilise microhabitat with slightly denser canopy cover, but not areas of dense canopy cover or groundcover (Pizzuto et al. 2007). Greater movement occurs on sandier areas (including tracks) and these types of habitat may be traversed between foraging areas (Pizzuto et al. 2007). Actvity also centred on areas of reduced duricrust and it has been suggested that a thick crust may mask the scent of food items below the surface (Pizzuto et al. 2007). Also, Burrowing Bettongs were shown to prefer areas of slightly thicker litter depth (1–2 cm) compared with a mean of <1 cm at the site (Pizzuto et al. 2007).

Longevity for the Barrow and Boodie Island subspecies is not recorded.  However, the Bernier and Dorre Islands subspecies (Shark Bay) have a life span of over three years, and the reintroduced population at Heirisson Prong (also Shark Bay) contains eleven year old individuals (Richards 2007; Short & Turner 1999).

The Barrow Island subspecies' oestrous cycle is 23 days, gestation 21 days, and the period of pouch life is 113–120 days. Young are weaned 23–74 days after vacation of the pouch. Females may reach sexual maturity at about 885 g (Tyndale-Biscoe 1968, cited in Richards 2007). The Barrow Island subspecies' reproductive output is seasonally opposite to the Shark Bay subspecies, peaking in summer in coincidence with cyclonic rain (Donaldson pers. comm. cited in Richards 2007).

The Burrowing Bettong feeds on a variety of food items, including figs, seeds, roots, termites and fungi (Burbidge 1995).

In a study to determine competition with European Rabbits at Shark Bay, the Shark Bay subspecies of the Burrowing Bettong was found to adjust its diet over winter and summer with minimal competition occurring with rabbits at a time of limited food resources. The winter diet of Bettongs included hypogeal fungi, fruit and forbs, whilst their summer diet included seed, stem, and the foliage of shrubs (Robley et al. 2001). It is thought that Burrowing Bettongs will also scavenge carcasses, such as rabbits (Robley et al. 2001).

When surveying for the Burrowing Bettong on the islands, the presence of other macropod types may make track identification indistinguishable, particularly if made by smaller-sized juveniles.

The Survey guidelines for Australia's threatened mammals, EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.5 (DSEWPaC 2011j), (link found at the start of this profile) outlines survey techniques for: detecting the presence of the Burrowing Bettong in areas up to five hectares; and confirming the species from the presence of signs.

Threats to the habitat of the Barrow and Boodie Islands subspecies include: disturbance by oilfield activities, especially gravel extraction and road construction; fire; and exotic invasive species (Butler 1987). Disease and climate change are also identified as potential threats (Richards 2007).

Feral cats and grazing by domestic stock have been implicated in the disappearance of the Shark Bay subspecies from Dirk Hartog Island.  These threats along with foxes are considered the main causes responsible for the Burrowing Bettong's disappearance from the mainland (Short & Turner 1993). Monitors (Varanus giganteus) are also reported to be major predators of the species (Short & Turner 1999).

An attempt to reintroduce Barrow Island sourced Burrowing Bettongs to the Gibson Desert, following fox and dingo removal, was thwarted by feral cats which killed all released Bettongs within two months (Christensen & Burrows 1995).

In late 2004, CALM (now WA DEC) established a Recovery Team for marsupials of Shark Bay to coordinate conservation actions for the subspecies including the Barrow and Boodie Islands subspecies (Richards 2007). Through this team, WA DEC has prepared the Western Barred Bandicoot Perameles bougainville, Burrowing Bettong Bettongia lesueur and Banded Hare-wallaby Lagostrophus fasciatus Recovery Plan 2007-2011 (Richards 2007). Recovery objectives that relate to the Burrowing Bettong include:

  • Protect the wild populations and their habitat.
  • Maintain captive populations.
  • Maintain existing reintroduced populations.
  • Reintroduce Burrowing Bettongs to mainland and island sites.
  • Review the taxonomic status and genetic structure of the three species.
  • Use population viability analysis (PVA) to compare the viability of wild and reintroduced populations.
  • Enhance community participation and education.
  • Secure ongoing funding for the implementation of the Recovery Plan.
  • Enhance linkages between projects involved in the recovery of Burrowing Bettongs.

Burrowing Bettongs are also recorded to have a high tolerance to sodium monofluoroacetate (1080 poison). Animals tested, survived doses of up to 10–20 mg/kg of 1080 (McIlroy 1982 cited in Richards 2007), suggesting that the species should be at little risk from accidental poisoning during fox, cat, and rabbit control programs to remove predators from their habitat (Richards 2007).

Recovery actions that relate to the Burrowing Bettong in the The Action Plan for Threatened Australian Macropods 2011-2021 (WWF 2011) include:

  • translocations to Heirisson Prong, Faure Island, Roxby Downs, Scotia, Yookamurra and Lorna Glen and associated monitoring.
  • control/exclusion of invasive predators and competitors on islands where 'wild' subpopulations occur (required).
  • implementation of hygiene and quarantine protocols for all subpopulations to control disease.
  • control/management of weeds on Bernier, Dorre, Boodie, Barrow and Faure Islands.
  • management of sites to avoid catastrophic wildfires.
  • maintenance of fence enclosure at Scotia, Yookamurra, Roxby Downs, Heirisson Prong and Lorna Glen.
  • enhancement of community participation and education. 

Management documents for the Burrowing Bettong (Bettongia lesueur unnamed subspecies) can be found at the start of this profile.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Grazing pressures and associated habitat changes Bettongia lesueur unnamed subsp.in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006cg) [Internet].
Energy Production and Mining:Mining and Quarrying:Habitat destruction, disturbance and/or modification due to mining activities Management of disturbance in an arid remnant: the Barrow Island Experience. In: Saunder, D.A., G.W. Arnold, A.A. Burbidge & A.J.M. Hopkins, eds. Nature Conservation: The Role of Remnants of Native Vegetation. Page(s) 279-285. (Butler, W.H., 1987) [Book].
Bettongia lesueur unnamed subsp.in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006cg) [Internet].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Mechanical disturbance during construction, maintanance or recreational activities Bettongia lesueur unnamed subsp.in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006cg) [Internet].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Vulpes vulpes (Red Fox, Fox) Bettongia lesueur unnamed subsp.in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006cg) [Internet].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Felis catus (Cat, House Cat, Domestic Cat) Bettongia lesueur unnamed subsp.in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006cg) [Internet].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Predation, competition, habitat degradation and/or spread of pathogens by introduced species Management of disturbance in an arid remnant: the Barrow Island Experience. In: Saunder, D.A., G.W. Arnold, A.A. Burbidge & A.J.M. Hopkins, eds. Nature Conservation: The Role of Remnants of Native Vegetation. Page(s) 279-285. (Butler, W.H., 1987) [Book].
Project desert dreaming: experimental reintroduction of mammals to the Gibson Desert, Western Australia. In: Serena, M., ed. Reintroduction biology of Australian and New Zealand fauna. Page(s) 199-207. (Christensen, P. & N. Burrows, 1995) [Book].
Ecology of burrowing bettongs, Bettongia lesueur (Marsupialia: Potoroidae), on Dorre and Bernier Islands, Western Australia. Wildlife Research. 26:651-669. (Short, J. & B. Turner, 1999) [Journal].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:unspecified Bettongia lesueur unnamed subsp.in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006cg) [Internet].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Predation by reptiles Bettongia lesueur unnamed subsp.in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006cg) [Internet].
Ecology of burrowing bettongs, Bettongia lesueur (Marsupialia: Potoroidae), on Dorre and Bernier Islands, Western Australia. Wildlife Research. 26:651-669. (Short, J. & B. Turner, 1999) [Journal].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Bettongia lesueur unnamed subsp.in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006cg) [Internet].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate prescribed regimes and/or vegetation management to control fire regimes Management of disturbance in an arid remnant: the Barrow Island Experience. In: Saunder, D.A., G.W. Arnold, A.A. Burbidge & A.J.M. Hopkins, eds. Nature Conservation: The Role of Remnants of Native Vegetation. Page(s) 279-285. (Butler, W.H., 1987) [Book].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals Management of disturbance in an arid remnant: the Barrow Island Experience. In: Saunder, D.A., G.W. Arnold, A.A. Burbidge & A.J.M. Hopkins, eds. Nature Conservation: The Role of Remnants of Native Vegetation. Page(s) 279-285. (Butler, W.H., 1987) [Book].

Australian Faunal Directory (AFD) (2010b). Subspecies Bettongia lesueur lesueur (Quoy & Gaimard, 1824). [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/abrs/online-resources/fauna/afd/taxa/Bettongia_lesueur_lesueur. [Accessed: 25-May-2010].

Burbidge, A. (1995). Burrowing bettong. In: Strahan, R., ed. The Mammals of Australia. Sydney: Reed Books.

Burbidge, A.A. (1999). Conservation values and management of Australian islands for non-volant mammal conservation. Australian Mammalogy. 21:67-74.

Butler, W.H. (1987). Management of disturbance in an arid remnant: the Barrow Island Experience. In: Saunder, D.A., G.W. Arnold, A.A. Burbidge & A.J.M. Hopkins, eds. Nature Conservation: The Role of Remnants of Native Vegetation. Page(s) 279-285. Chipping Norton: Surrey Beatty.

Christensen, P. & N. Burrows (1995). Project desert dreaming: experimental reintroduction of mammals to the Gibson Desert, Western Australia. In: Serena, M., ed. Reintroduction biology of Australian and New Zealand fauna. Page(s) 199-207. Chipping Norton: Surrey Beatty & Sons.

Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC) (2011j). Survey guidelines for Australia's threatened mammals. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.5. [Online]. EPBC Act policy statement: Canberra, ACT: DSEWPAC. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/publications/threatened-mammals.html.

Ecosure (2009). Prioritisation of high conservation status of offshore islands. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive/publications/offshore-islands.html. [Accessed: 01-Jun-2010].

Environment Australia (EA) (1999a). Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by the European Red Fox. [Online]. Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/foxes08.html.

Environment Australia (EA) (1999b). Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by Feral Cats. [Online]. Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/cats08.html.

Environment Australia (EA) (1999c). Threat Abatement Plan for Competition and Land Degradation by Feral Rabbits. [Online]. Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/rabbits08.html.

Finlayson, H.H. (1958). Preliminary description of two new forms of Bettongia (Marsupialia). Annals in Magazine of Natural History. 10:552-554.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (2010). IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. [Online]. Available from: http://www.iucnredlist.org.

Jones, F.W. (1923). The Mammals of South Australia. In: Handbook of the Flora and Fauna of South Australia. Part I:1-131. Adelaide: Government Printer.

Maxwell, S., A.A. Burbidge & K. Morris (1996). The 1996 Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes. [Online]. Wildlife Australia, Environment Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/resource/action-plan-australian-marsupials-and-monotremes.

Pizzuto, T.A., G.R. Finlayson, M.S. Crowther & C.R. Dickman (2007). Microhabitat use by the brush-tailed bettong (Bettongia penicillata) and burrowing bettong (B. lesueur) in semiarid New South Wales: implications for reintroduction programs. Wildlife Research. 34:271-79.

Richards, J. (2007). Western Barred Bandicoot Perameles bougainville, Burrowing Bettong Bettongia lesueur and Banded Hare-wallaby Lagostrophus fasciatus Recovery Plan 2007-2011. [Online]. Wildlife Management Program No. 49. Western Australia: Department of Environment and Conservation. Available from: http://www.dec.wa.gov.au/pdf/plants_animals/threatened_species/frps/49-SharkBayMarsupialsRecPlan_2010_03_31.pdf.

Robley, A.J., J. Short & S. Bradley (2001). Dietary overlap between the burrowing bettong (Bettongia lesueur) and the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in semi-arid coastal Western Australia. Wildlife Research. 28(4):341-349.

Sander, U., J. Short & B. Turner (1997). Social organisation and warren use of the burrowing bettong, Bettongia lesueur (Macropodoidea: Potoroidae). Wildlife Research. 24:143-157.

Short, J. & B. Turner (1991). Distribution and abundance of spectacled hare-wallabies and euros on Barrow Island, Western Australia. Wildlife Research. 18:421-429.

Short, J. & B. Turner (1993). The distribution and abundance of the burrowing bettong (Marsupialia: Macropodoidea). Wildlife Research. 20:525-534.

Short, J. & B. Turner (1999). Ecology of burrowing bettongs, Bettongia lesueur (Marsupialia: Potoroidae), on Dorre and Bernier Islands, Western Australia. Wildlife Research. 26:651-669.

Strahan, R. ed (1998). The Mammals of Australia, Second Edition, rev. Sydney, NSW: Australian Museum and Reed New Holland.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Bettongia lesueur unnamed subsp. in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Tue, 16 Sep 2014 15:10:17 +1000.