Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes

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Wildlife Australia, December 1996
ISBN 0 6422 1395 X

Recovery Outline - Quokka

Recovery Outline


1 Family: Macropodidae

2 Scientific Name: Setonix brachyurus (Quoy and Gaimard, 1830)

3 Common Name: Quokka

4 Conservation status: Vulnerable: A1b,c,e,C1

5 Intra-specific taxa:

None currently described, however morphometric and genetic work presently under way (E. Sinclair, UWA) may indicate that the island and mainland populations warrant subspecific status.

6 Former distribution:

Endemic to the south west of WA, including Rottnest and Bald Islands. On the mainland distributed from Moore River (100 km north of Perth) to the vicinity of Albany on the south coast (Glauert 1933), although Troughton (1946) suggests they extended as far east as Esperance. Kabay and Start (1976) recorded Quokka bones in surface deposits from several sites along the south coast as far east as Fitzgerald River National Park. Abundant in the Albany district in the 1850s and in the Busselton/ Margaret River area until the late 1920s (White 1952). Regarded as a problem to pine seedlings in new plantations around Mundaring in the early 1930s (L. Talbot pers. comm.). Until the 1970s were still reasonably common in most swamps around Dwellingup (M. Dillon pers. comm.) and in those west and south of Manjimup (Christensen et al. 1985, Kabay and Start 1976).

7 Current distribution:

Currently known from Rottnest and Bald Islands

Currently known from Rottnest and Bald Islands, and from 25 sites on the mainland, including Two Peoples Bay NR, Torndirrup NP and Mt Manypeaks NP. The most northern known location is in state forest/water catchment approximately 18 km southeast of the Perth metropolitan area (P. de Tores pers. comm.). The persistence of the two most northern populations was recently confirmed through opportunistic survey. The most inland population is in Stirling Range NP and its eastern-most known occurrence is at Mt Manypeaks.

The area of occupancy on the mainland has probably been reduced by at least 50 percent over the last 50-60 years and would not exceed 20 000 km2. The population located at Byford in 1957 (Kitchener and Vicker 1981) is now extinct (E. Sinclair pers. comm.). They were known from 12 swamps in State Forest around Dwellingup in 1972 - recent surveys of the same swamps have located populations in only one. Of the remaining two, the population is thought to be extinct at one and only one individual has ever been recorded at the other (although there is evidence of activity indicating a small population at the latter) (P. de Tores pers. comm.). Similarly Christensen et al. (1985) recorded Quokkas at 31 swamp and creek locations in State Forest west and south of Manjimup in the mid-1970s. They are known to have since disappeared from at least two of these sites, others have not been resurveyed. Populations in the Collie area are thought to comprise approximately 20-30 individuals (R. Brazell pers. com.). The population size at all other sites is unknown.

8 Habitat:

Previously recorded in "low lying scrub country from the coast to the Marri and Jarrah fringes" (White 1952). Now restricted to swamps with dense vegetation. Christensen et al. (1985) recorded them in tea tree thickets on sandy soils in the upper reaches of small creek systems. They occur in low scrub and Rottnest Island Pine thickets on Rottnest Island, and in dense heaths on Mt Gardner in Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve.

9 Reasons for decline:

Much of the decline coincided with the arrival of the fox in the south-west of WA in the late 1920s and they probably now occupy a narrower habitat niche than previously with predation confining remaining mainland populations to dense vegetation. Clearing and burning of remnant swamp habitat has probably also contributed to their decline through increased exposure to fox predation.

10 Additional studies required for recovery objectives and actions to be defined:

10.1 Complete taxonomic study and make recommendations regarding subspecies (if any).

10.2 Undertake extensive survey to determine current distribution and status on the mainland. In particular, revisit previous known localities to determine current status.

11 Recovery objectives:

Downlisting from Vulnerable to Lower Risk (conservation dependent) within 5 years.

12 Management actions completed or under way:

12.1 Taxonomic study under way (UWA).

12.2 Survey previous known sites and estimates of population size underway in the northern jarrah forest.

12.3 Development of a model to predict occurrence of quokkas elsewhere within the northern jarrah forest underway.

12.4 Research into the impact of fox predation under way.

12.5 Most of the known populations on the Darling Scarp and at Two Peoples Bay are protected by fox baiting.

12.6 Fox baiting being extended to additional populations via 'Western Shield'.

13 Management actions required:

13.1 Complete distribution survey, in particular revisit the sites of Christensen et al. (1985) and Kabay and Start (1976).

13.2 Examine the impact of prescribed burning regimes on habitat.

12.7 Develop a predator free quokka interpretation/breeding site.

14 Organisation(s) responsible for conservation of species:

WA Department of Conservation and Land Management.

15 Other organisations or individuals involved:

The University of Western Australia, Alcoa of Australia, Curtin University.

16 Staff and financial resources required for recovery to be carried out:

Taxonomic study PhD student ($6000/year for 3 years) *$18 000

Distribution and status 0.4 CALM Technical Officer
operating costs $4000/year for 2 years $8 000

Survey and population size estimates )
in the northern jarrah forest ) MSc/PhD student
Develop predictive model ) + 0.1 CALM Technical $65 700
Assess impact of predation ) Officer
Assess impact of prescribed burning )

Enclosure for education and breeding $200 000

* currently being funded by Alcoa

Total $291 700


Christensen P., Annels A., Liddelow G. and Skinner P. 1985. Vertebrate fauna in the southern forests of Western Australia. A survey. Forests Department of Western Australia, Bulletin 94.

Glauert L. 1933. The distribution of marsupials in Western Australia. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 19, 32-35.

Kabay E.D. and Start A.N. 1976. Results of the search for the Potoroo in south west and south coast of Western Australia. Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Perth (unpublished).

Kitchener D.J. and Vicker E. 1981. Catalogue of Modern Mammals in the Western Australian Museum 1895-1981. Western Australian Museum, Perth.

Troughton E. 1946. Furred Animals of Australia. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.

White S.R. 1952. The occurrence of the Quokka in the south west. Western Australian Naturalist 3(5), 101-103.


Recovery Outline

Western Ringtail

1 Family: Pseudocheiridae

2 Scientific name: Pseudocheirus occidentalis Thomas, 1888

3 Common name: Western Ringtail

4 Conservation status: Vulnerable: C2a

5 Intra-specific taxa:

Subsequent to its initial description as a separate species, P. occidentalis was included by later workers among the subspecies of P. peregrinus, the Common Ringtail Possum of eastern Australia. General acceptance of P. occidentalis as a separate species is reflected in Strahan (1995).

6 Former distribution:

Patchily distributed through near-coastal south-west of WA from 120 km south of Geraldton to the southern edge of the Nullarbor Plain, with the most inland record from Tutanning Nature Reserve. Records south of Geraldton and on the Nullarbor are known only from surficial subfossil deposits.

7 Current distribution:

Extant populations are mostly on the coastal strip from the Australind/Eaton area

Extant populations are mostly on the coastal strip from the Australind/Eaton area (170 km south of Perth) to Waychinicup NP (near Albany). The only known extant inland populations are in the lower Collie River valley, and Perup Nature Reserve and surrounding State forest near Manjimup. Occurs in Yalgorup NP (translocated), Leschenault Peninsula CP (translocated), Tuart Forest NP, Torndirrup NP, Locke Estate NR, Two Peoples Bay NR and Waychinicup NP. Recent translocation to Lane-Poole CP near Dwellingup.


8 Habitat:

Formerly distributed through a variety of vegetation types including Coastal Peppermint (Agonis flexuosa), Coastal Peppermint/Tuart (Eucalyptus gomphocephala) associations, Jarrah (E. marginata)/Marri (E. calophylla)/ Wandoo (E. wandoo) associations, Sheoak (Allocasuarina huegeliana) woodland, eucalypt woodland and mallee.

Most extant populations occupy Coastal Peppermint woodland and Coastal Peppermint/Tuart associations. Perup and the surrounding multiple-use forest are the only known sites where P. occidentalis still occurs in the absence of Peppermint.

9 Reasons for decline:

Factors thought to have contributed include predation by introduced predators, habitat loss and/or modification, and changing fire regimes.

Monitoring of rehabilitated ringtails released into the wild indicates that fox predation is a major cause of mortality of these animals. Releases in areas where foxes have been controlled have resulted in self-sustaining populations.

10 Additional studies required for recovery objectives and actions to be defined:

None, an Interim Recovery Plan is being prepared.

11 Recovery objectives:

(These may change when the Interim Recovery Plan is finalised.)

11.1 Conserve populations that occur within public lands managed by CALM.

11.2 Improve the species conservation status so that it no longer meets criteria for Vulnerable.

11.3 Minimise the impact of land developments through in situ conservation and translocations as appropriate.

11.4 Ensure that derelict animals (injured, orphaned or nuisance animals) are rehabilitated where possible and released into the wild in places where their chances of survival are maximised.

12 Management actions completed or under way:

12.1 Research into biology, ecology and distribution (Jones et al. 1994a, b).

12.2 Successful translocation to fox-controlled areas within Leschenault CP and Karakamia Sanctuary.

12.3 Experimental translocation to non-Coastal Peppermint habitat in Yalgorup NP and Lane-Poole CP underway.

12.4 Liaison with local Government authorities concerning land developments.

12.5 Ongoing liaison with wildlife carers.

13 Management actions required

(These may change when the Interim Recovery Plan is finalised.)

13.1 Conservation of Western Ringtails in public lands managed by CALM.

13.2 Minimising impacts of land developments. Land developments, particularly in coastal areas between Bunbury and Augusta, and near Albany, have the potential to degrade or destroy Western Ringtail habitat, leading to the elimination or reduction in size of populations. Liaison with town planning authorities is needed to promote habitat retention and translocations.

13.3 Management of 'derelict' ringtails. Liaison with wildlife carers will promote good management and ensure release of rehabilitated animals into areas where survival is maximised.

13.4 Translocations. Translocations will be carried out to sites within the former range of the species and where fox control is in place Sites for translocations are now available within areas currently subject to fox control via Operation Foxglove. Sites for future translocations are proposed to include the Hills Forest near Mundaring, Lane Poole CP, and Batalling Forest. Translocations will occur to Tutanning NR, subject to searches demonstrating beyond reasonable doubt that the species is locally extinct there.

13.5. Education, liaison and communication. This will be aimed particularly at people living in towns where Western Ringtails occur in urban and semi-urban areas.

14 Organisation(s) responsible for conservation of species:

WA Department of Conservation and Land Management.

15 Other organisations or individuals involved:

Western Australian Museum, Karakamia Sanctuary, wildlife carers, WA Government agencies and local authorities involved in land use planning and approvals, land owners and developers.

16 Staff and financial resources required for recovery to be carried out:

Financial resources required - 1996 - 1998

Action Agency ESP Total Cost
Conservation in land managed by CALM $50 000 $50 000
Minimising impacts of land developments $20 000 $20 000
Management of derelict ringtails $15 000 $15 000
Translocations $10 000 $40 000 $50 000

Education, liaison and communication $10 000 $10 000

Total $115 000 $40 000

Total $155 000


Jones B.A., How R.A. and Kitchener D.J. 1994a. A field study of Pseudocheirus occidentalis (Marsupalia: Petauridae). I. Distribution and habitat. Wildlife Research 21, 175-187.

Jones B.A., How R.A. and Kitchener D.J. 1994b. A field study of Pseudocheirus occidentalis (Marsupalia: Petauridae). II. Population Studies. Wildlife Research 21, 189-201.

Recovery Outline

Fluffy Glider

1 Family: Petauridae

2 Scientific Name: Petaurus australis unnamed subsp.

3 Common Name: Fluffy Glider, Yellow-bellied Glider (N subspecies)

4 Conservation status: Vulnerable: B1+2c,d,e,C2a

5 Other subspecies:

The Wet Tropics populations of P. australis are referred to by Russell (1995) as constituting the subspecies P. a. reginae. This appears incorrect as the type specimen for P. a. reginae is from southern Qld, within the extent of occurrence of the southern subspecies P. a. australis. P. a. australis is LR(nt).

6 Former distribution:

Wet sclerophyll forest between Mt Windsor (100 km north-west of Cairns) and Kirrama (70 km west of Cardwell) in Qld.

7 Current distribution:

There are about 13 distinct populations occurring as three geographically separate meta-populations

There are about 13 distinct populations occurring as three geographically separate meta-populations: (1) on the Mt Windsor Tableland, (2) on the Mt Carbine Tableland, and (3) extending from Atherton to Kirrama on the Atherton Tableland and ranges to the south. The Windsor and Carbine populations occupy quite large blocks of habitat, but the Atherton-Kirrama population occurs in a very narrow, almost linear, stretch of habitat that extends about 130 km north-south but is in many places less than one kilometre wide. The distribution of the Atherton-Kirrama population contains many gaps; south of Ravenshoe (which is approximately at the mid-point of the range of this population) these gaps are due to natural discontinuities of habitat, but to the north they are due to clearing of habitat.

The three meta-populations are estimated to contain approximately 2 000 individuals each.

8 Habitat:

Wet sclerophyll forest on the western fringes of rainforest in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. The species relies heavily on Eucalyptus grandis for tree-hollows, and E. resinifera for feeding. It feeds by incising the bark and drinking the sap of E. resinifera trees, some individuals of which are clearly favoured and become very heavily scarred. These two tree species occur in distinct plant assemblages, with E. grandis typically growing very close to the rainforest edge and E. resinifera found further out. P. australis undescribed subspecies is therefore dependent on a particular mosaic of wet sclerophyll habitats.

9 Reasons for decline:

There have evidently been some declines in the Fluffy Glider as a result of habitat clearing between Ravenshoe and Atherton. Further declines may be anticipated for two reasons:

- Isolated subpopulations of the fragmented Atherton-Ravenshoe population may become extinct as a result of local stochasticity, especially where the isolation of subpopulations has been increased through clearing of habitat.

- There is strong evidence of a gradual decline in the area of habitat available to all three populations (Harrington and Sanderson 1994). Wet sclerophyll forest in this region occupies a narrow geographical range, the western limit of which is set by moisture availability and the eastern limit of which is set by the position of the rainforest boundary. Over the last 50 years, the rainforest boundary has shifted to the west, replacing wet sclerophyll forests and compressing substantially their total area of occurrence; the area occupied by E. grandis in the Wet Tropics region has declined by about 40%. This expansion of rainforest is thought to be due to a reduction in the intensity of fires along the western margins of rainforests, which in turn is due to the high frequency of burning favoured by pastoral lessees. Fluffy Gliders have large home range requirements, and are thus likely to be sensitive to reductions in habitat area.

10 Additional studies required for recovery objectives and actions to be defined:

10.1 Taxonomic clarification. The Wet Tropics populations of P. australis are referred to by Russell (1995) as constituting the subspecies P. a. reginae but this appears incorrect (see above). Nevertheless the geographic separation of the Wet Tropics and southern distributions of P. australis has almost certainly produced significant genetic differentiation, which should be studied to clarify intra-specific taxonomy.

10.2 Study of the foraging ecology, habitat utilisation, socioecology and dispersal of P. australis undescribed subspecies. Studies of behaviour and dispersal should focus on the behaviour of animals in the highly fragmented Atherton-Kirrama section of the taxon's range.

10.3 Study of the role of fire in maintaining the extent and mosaic of wet sclerophyll forest types required by the Fluffy Glider. This research should examine the requirements for regeneration of E. grandis and E. resinifera, and the intensity of burning needed to limit the invasion of existing wet sclerophyll forests by rainforest species.

11 Recovery objectives:

Downlisting from Vulnerable to Lower Risk (conservation dependent). This will require that the current decline in habitat of P. australis undescribed subspecies be arrested, and that monitoring of sub-populations be established with translocation used where necessary to counter local extinctions.

12 Management actions completed or under way:

Research projects on the behavioural ecology and population ecology of P. australis undescribed subspecies, and on the larger-scale ecology of wet sclerophyll forest, fire, and the dynamics of the rainforest boundary, are being conducted by the CRC for Tropical Rainforest Ecology and Management. A molecular study of genetic variation within and between populations is being planned, also within the CRC.

13 Management actions required:

Additional research into ecology and taxonomy. Recovery objectives may require changes in the management of fire regimes along the western margin of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and additional fire ecology research is needed. This is controversial, and must await clear recommendations derived from research results. Prompt action may be required as in some areas the loss of habitat has been so rapid that a further five to ten years of degradation may result in the loss of some colonies.

14 Organisation(s) responsible for conservation of species:

Qld Department of Environment, Wet Tropics Management Authority.

15 Other organisations or individuals involved:

CRC for Tropical Rainforest Ecology and Management (CSIRO Wildlife and Ecology at Atherton, James Cook University, University of Queensland), John Winter.

16 Staff and financial resources required for recovery to be carried out:

Staff resources required - postgraduate student attached to CRC for Tropical Rainforest Ecology and Management (stipend paid by CRC TREM)

Financial resources required 1995-1998 -

Action agency ESP Total Cost
Ecological and taxonomic research $21 000 $21 000
Fire ecology research $50 000 $50 000 $100 000

Total $50 000 $71 000

Total 1995-1998 $121 000


Harrington G. N. and Sanderson K.D. 1994. Recent contraction of wet sclerophyll forest in the wet tropics of Queensland due to invasion by rainforest. Pacific Conservation Biology 1, 319-327.

Russell R. 1995. Yellow-bellied Glider Petaurus australis. Pp. 226-228 in R. Strahan (Ed.) The Mammals of Australia. Reed Books, Chatswood, NSW.