Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes

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Wildlife Australia, December 1996
ISBN 0 6422 1395 X

Indroduction

This Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes was commissioned by the Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia(Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia), through the Endangered Species Program (ESP).

An Action Plan for Australasian Marsupials and Monotremes (Kennedy 1992), prepared by the IUCN Species Survival Commission's Australasian Marsupial and Monotreme Specialist Group (AMMSG), was published by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) in 1992.

Most of the information in the 1992 Action Plan was compiled in the late 1980s. Additionally, the 1992 Plan was prepared before the IUCN started developing new criteria for allocating taxa to Red List categories. Action Plans for other Australian vertebrate groups have been prepared since, and have allocated taxa to the draft category Critical (now Critically Endangered). The new definitions, which were finalised in November 1994, allow more rigorous allocation of taxa to the IUCN Red List categories than was the case previously.

In May 1994, noting that there had been rapid changes in the conservation status of and information available about marsupials and monotremes in Australia, the Australasian Marsupial and Monotreme Specialist Group (AMMSG) applied to Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia for funds to revise the Action Plan.The application was prepared by the Chair of AMMSG on behalf of AMMSG.

Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia agreed to allocate funds and a contract was completed between Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia and the Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management (where the current Chair and Secretary of AMMSGwork). The contract included the following scope items:

  1. Overview the conservation status of Australian marsupials and monotremes and, where information is available, develop a list of extinct, endangered (including critical), vulnerable and insufficiently known taxa using definitions provided by the Endangered Species Unit.
  2. Identify the critical habitats of endangered and vulnerable taxa.
  3. Identify processes threatening Australian marsupials and monotremes, in particular those in the endangered and vulnerable categories.
  4. Review current research and management action to conserve endangered and vulnerable Australian marsupials and monotremes and recommend future priorities, in particular those in the endangered and vulnerable categories.

Ms Stephanie Maxwell (Maianbar Consulting) was contracted to organise the preparation of the Action Plan under the supervision of Dr Andrew Burbidge (Chair, AMMSG) and Mr Keith Morris (Secretary, AMMSG).

Methods

AMMSG endeavoured to ensure that all people with knowledge about the conservation status and conservation needs of species and subspecies of Australian marsupials and monotremes were consulted and had an opportunity to provide information and comment on drafts.

The editors first developed a list of all taxa to be reviewed. The list, which is provided at Table 1, was widely circulated for comment, and updated as necessary as more information came in from experts. At the same time we developed a list of specialists with knowledge about taxa of conservation concern, both within and outside the AMMSG (Appendix A).

Next we asked relevant experts to nominate taxa whose conservation status should be reviewed and provide information about them. Initially, we provided a draft list based on taxa included in the current Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) List of Threatened Australian Vertebrates. In particular, we asked relevant experts to score taxa they were knowledgable about or wished to nominate against a modified ranking scheme based on that of Millsap et al. (1990) (Appendix B) and against the 1994 IUCN Red List Criteria (IUCN 1994, Appendix C). These data were stored in a Paradox for Windows database.

Some difficulties were encountered when scoring marsupials in the modified Millsap et al. (1990) system, which was developed to provide relative scores for all vertebrate animals. These were overcome by revising some questions to make them more relevant to the biology of marsupials and monotremes and by a decision, taken at the specialist workshop (see below), to limit the 'Biological Score' to the first four questions. However, the scores to questions 5 and 6 are included in the database so comparisons can be made between marsupials and monotremes and other taxonomic groups that may be scored using this system.

Throughout the preliminary data collection phase, drafts were circulated to AMMSG members and others as appropriate, for comment. Electronic mail (e-mail) was used widely from September 1995, when Internet access became available to the editors.

A specialist workshop was organised to review progress and finalise the allocation of taxa to IUCN categories. The workshop was held on Friday and Saturday 15-16 December 1995 at the Quarantine Station Conference Centre, North Head, Sydney. It was held at this time and location as a number of participants also attended a workshop on the Recovery Process at the same venue from 12-14 December. People invited to the workshop were selected for their ability to provide or have access to a broad range of information on a number of taxa or taxonomic groups of marsupials of particular regions of the country. The 17 Workshop participants are shown in Appendix A.

After the workshop, draft Recovery Outlines were distributed for comment to all people who had contributed information. Then, in February 1996, an almost complete draft of this Action Plan was sent to all members of AMMSG for review, and comments received were incorporated before finalisation of this Plan.

A final draft of this Action Plan was provided to Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia in May 1996. In June 1996, Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia circulated it to ANZECC agencies, CSIRO Division of Wildlife and Ecology and the World Wide Fund for Nature Australia for review. The comments received were provided to the editors in early October and the draft amended as appropriate. The final report was sent to Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia in November 1996.

Table 1. Complete taxonomic list and conservation status of Australian marsupials and monotremes, with IUCN Red List category allocated by this Action Plan and per cent decline in extent of occurrence since European settlement.

Please Note: A change over in the legislation relating to the classification of the level of vulnerability of Species occurred on the 16th of July 2000 with the introduction of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC). This has seen some Species listing status being reassessed. For the latest species status please check the threatened Species lists. Threatened Animal Species, Threatened Plant Species