Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes

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Wildlife Australia, December 1996
ISBN 0 6422 1395 X

Recovery Outline - Lemuroid Ringtail Possum

Taxon Summary

Lemuroid Ringtail Possum

1 Family: Pseudocheiridae

2 Scientific name: Hemibelideus lemuroides (Collett, 1884)

3 Common name: Lemuroid Ringtail Possum

4 Conservation status: Lower Risk (near threatened): b

5 Past range and abundance:

Rainforests above 450 m elevation, between Cardwell and Cairns, with one isolated population on the Mt Carbine Tableland 80 km north-west of Cairns.

6 Present range and abundance:

rainforest

As above, but area of occupancy has declined as a result of clearing and fragmentation of rainforest. This species appears very sensitive to the effects of fragmentation and rapidly disappears from isolated rainforest patches of less than 80 ha. Its abundance may be very high in large tracts of suitable forest. 

7 Habitat:

Cool, wet, primary rainforest, typically in the core rather than on the margins of suitable habitat. Rests in tree hollows, and feeds on the foliage of rainforest trees, often high in the canopy.

8 Current threats:

None identified; clearing and fragmentation of habitat has ceased.

9 Recommended actions:

9.1 Monitor distribution and abundance.

9.2 Study habitat requirements and population dynamics.

References:

Winter J.W. and Gouldberg N.J. 1995. Lemuroid Ringtail Possum Hemibelideus lemuroides. Pp. 238-239 in R. Strahan (Ed.) The Mammals of Australia. Reed Books, Chatswood, NSW.

 

Taxon Summary

Green Ringtail Possum

1 Family: Pseudocheiridae

2 Scientific name: Pseudochirops archeri (Collett, 1884)

3 Common name: Green Ringtail Possum

4 Conservation status: Lower Risk (near threatened): b

5 Past range and abundance:

From 50 km south of Ingham (Paluma Range) to 120 km north-west of Cairns (Mt Windsor Tableland) at elevations above 300 m.

6 Present range and abundance:

rainforest As above, but area of occupancy has declined as a result of clearing of rainforest, especially on the Atherton Tableland.

7 Habitat:

Cool rainforests, often associated with figs (which form a large part of its diet) and in disturbed habitats. It does not use hollows.

8 Current threats:

None identified.

9 Recommended actions:

9.1 Monitor distribution and abundance.

9.2 Conduct research on population dynamics and habitat utilisation.

References:

Winter J.W. and Gouldberg N.J. 1995. Green Ringtail Possum Pseudochirops archeri. Pp. 244-236 in R. Strahan (Ed.) The Mammals of Australia. Reed Books, Chatswood, NSW.

 

Taxon Summary

Daintree River Ringtail Possum

1 Family: Pseudocheiridae

2 Scientific name: Pseudochirulus cinereus (Tate, 1945)

3 Common name: Daintree River Ringtail Possum

4 Conservation status: Lower Risk (near threatened): b

5 Past range and abundance:

Upland (>450 m elevation) rainforests between Cairns and Mossman. There are three populations, on the Mt Carbine Tableland, the Mt Windsor Tableland and Thornton Peak.

6 Present range and abundance:

rainforest Similar to above.

7 Habitat:

Cool, wet rainforest, in both primary and secondary forests.

8 Current threats:

None identified.

9 Recommended actions:

9.1 Monitor distribution and abundance.

9.2 Conduct research on population dynamics and habitat utilisation.

References:

Winter J.W. and Trennery M. 1995. Daintree River Ringtail Possum Pseudochirulus cinereus. Pp. 247-249 in R. Strahan (Ed.) The Mammals of Australia. Reed Books, Chatswood, NSW.

 

Taxon Summary

Herbert River Ringtail Possum

1 Family: Pseudocheiridae

2 Scientific name: Pseudochirulus herbertensis (Collett, 1884)

3 Common name: Herbert River Ringtail Possum

4 Conservation status: Lower Risk (near threatened): b

5 Past range and abundance:

Known last century from Herbert River gorge to Kuranda on the Atherton Tableland. A smaller population in the Mt Lee block of rainforest was confirmed in the early 1980s (Winter et al. 1984). This second population is isolated from the other by the Herbert River gorge.

6 Present range and abundance:

There is no evidence to suggest contraction in the range of the species

There is no evidence to suggest contraction in the range of the species, although habitat reduction has taken place through clearing. About 23% of upland rainforest habitat on the Atherton Tableland has been cleared, isolating the Herberton Range/Hugh Nelson Range population and close to causing major breaks in continuity of upland rainforest in the Mulgrave and North Johnstone catchments. In a fragmented rainforest, the ringtail disappears from patches of habitat less than 20-30 ha in area (Pahl et al. 1988, Laurance 1990).

The only estimate of population density available is of 8.9 per hectare at Longlands Gap on the Atherton Tableland (Seawright 1981). This is one of the higher density populations on the Atherton Tablelands and the method used may have overestimated the density. Using a much more conservative figure of 1/ha, the estimated size of extant populations are in the order of 295 000 and 36 000 for the Atherton and Mt Lee populations respectively.

7 Habitat:

Confined to rainforest above 350 m in elevation (Nix and Switzer 1991). There have been records of the species in wet sclerophyll forest adjacent to rainforest, however it is unlikely that self-sustaining populations exist in eucalypt forest.

8 Current threats:

Now that most of the ringtail's habitat is within the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage area, threats from large scale clearing or selective logging no longer apply. Short term local extinctions in the fragmented rural landscape of the Atherton and Evelyn Tablelands is a threat although restricted to 23% of the ringtail's original distribution. Longer term genetic changes may take place in larger populations, now isolated by clearing. Linear clearings through rainforest, along roads and power lines, may also contribute to genetic fragmentation. A study of the potential barrier effect of such clearing is currently under way (R. Wilson, PhD in progress). Anthropogenic disturbance from noise (eg. vehicles) and spotlighting may have deleterious effects in localised areas.

9 Recommended actions:

9.1 Establish connectivity of the now isolated Herberton Range/Hugh Nelson Range population with the main population by reforestation.

9.2 Ensure continuity of habitat in the Mulgrave and North Johnstone catchments is maintained and even enhanced.

9.3 Reclaim the rural landscape of the Atherton and Evelyn Tablelands as suitable habitat through reforestation on private land to establish a connectivity network of rainforest corridors and patches.

9.4 Determine possible genetic demes within the presently continuous population of the main Atherton Unit population which may have resulted from population fragmentation as a result of climatic changes since the height of the last glacial period c. 18 000 years before the present.

9.5 Continue studies on socio-ecology, habitat requirements and effects of disturbance on the species.

References:

Laurance W.F. 1990. Comparative responses of five arboreal marsupials to tropical forest fragmentation. Journal of Mammalogy 71, 641-653.

Nix H.A. and Switzer M.A. 1991. Rainforest animals: atlas of vertebrates endemic to Australia's wet tropics. Kowari 1. Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, Canberra.

Pahl L.I., Winter J.W. and Heinsohn G. 1988. Variation in responses of arboreal marsupials to fragmentation of tropical rainforest in north eastern Australia. Biological Conservation 46, 71-82.

Seawright C.D. 1981. Ecology of the Herbert River ringtail, Pseudocheirus herbertensis (Collett 1884), in rainforest on the Atherton Tableland. BSc(Hons) thesis, James Cook University, Townsville (unpublished).

Winter J.W., Bell F.C., Pahl L.I. and Atherton R.G. 1984. The specific habitats of selected northeastern Australian rainforest animals. Report to World Wildlife Fund, Sydney (unpublished).

Taxon Summary

Yellow-bellied Glider (S subspecies)

1 Family: Petauridae

2 Scientific name: Petaurus australis australis Shaw, 1791

3 Common name: Yellow-bellied Glider (S subspecies)

4 Conservation status: Lower Risk (near threatened): c

5 Past range and abundance:

Range essentially coastal, from central Qld to south-eastern SA, but occurred inland to the Great Dividing Range. Considered to be uncommon throughout range, but may have been locally more abundant. Despite large size and highly vocal nature, may be inconspicuous and difficult to census.

6 Present range and abundance:

Total range probably little reduced, but some local populations are extinct, eg, west Gippsland

Total range probably little reduced, but some local populations are extinct, eg, west Gippsland (Vic.) and others tending so eg. populations in remnant eucalypt forest in south-eastern SA. In east Gippsland, widespread and relatively common, but rare in hinterland, higher rainfall forests. Generally found at low densities which, coupled with large home range and long-term family groupings, indicates that status of Rare is warranted.

7 Habitat:

Coastal and foothill open forest and woodland, also found in lower numbers in wet eucalypt forest. A predominance of smooth-barked eucalypts within a mixed eucalypt forest is preferred habitat. In southern Qld, winter flowering eucalypts such as Eucalyptus maculata seem to be important in habitat selection. In NSW, may reach highest densities where high eucalypt diversity provides a continuous supply of nectar throughout the year.

8 Current threats:

Habitat reduction and alteration through land clearing for agriculture and timber harvesting. Will suffer declines in density with the removal of old growth elements from unlogged forests or from previously lightly-logged forests. Requirement for variety of feed trees in mixed forest over large home range and need for hollows in which to nest mean that effective conservation can only be achieved through reservation of forest. Pair for life, so extensive areas required. Isolated populations such as those in far western Vic. and south-eastern SA may not be viable in the long term.

9 Recommended actions:

9.1 Reservation of large areas of forest containing old, hollow trees, coupled with links to other protected areas by corridors no less than 200 m wide.

9.2 Establishment of monitoring programs in all States, especially of the isolated populations, and those in areas where timber harvesting is part of forest management.

9.3 In forest management areas, retention of sap-site trees and robust mature eucalypts which provide an adequate nectar foraging resource.

References:

Craig S.A. 1985. Social organisation, reproduction and feeding behaviour of a population of Yellow-bellied Gliders, Petaurus australis (Marsupalia: Petauridae). Australian Wildlife Research 12, 1-18.

Henry S.R. and Craig S.A. 1984. Diet, ranging behaviour and social organisation of the Yellow-bellied Glider (Petaurus australis Shaw) in Victoria. Pp. 331-341 in Smith A. and Hume I. (Eds) Possums and Gliders. Australian Mammal Society and Surrey Beatty and Sons, Chipping Norton, NSW.

Henry S.R. 1995. Yellow-bellied Glider Petaurus australis. Pp. 107-109 in Menkhorst P.W. (Ed.) Mammals of Victoria. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Kavanagh R.P. 1987a. Forest phenology and its effects on foraging behaviour and selection of habitat by the Yellow-bellied Glider Petaurus australis Shaw. Australian Wildlife Research 14, 371-384.

Kavanagh R.P. 1987b. Foraging behaviour of the Yellow-bellied Glider, Petaurus australis (Marsupalia: Petauridae) near Eden, New South Wales. Australian Mammalogy 10, 37-39.