Revised Recovery plan for the Carpentarian Rock-rat Zyzomys Palatalis

Helen Puckey, John Woinarski and Colin Trainor
Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, January 2003

2.0 Strategy for recovery

2.1 Overall objective

Down-list the Carpentarian Rock-rat to Vulnerable or Conservation Dependent within 10 years of revised Recovery Plan implementation.

2.2 Specific objectives during the implementation of the revised Recovery Plan

  1. Develop and implement appropriate management strategies to maintain known populations.
  2. Continue research into ecology and population demography to fill current information gaps.
  3. Continue to adapt established PVA models as new information becomes available.
  4. Maintain a viable captive breeding population.
  5. Investigate aspects of the biology of Carpentarian Rock-rats that can be carried out on captive animals.
  6. Experimentally release captive bred individuals into a potentially suitable area not currently occupied.
  7. Raise the profile of the Carpentarian Rock-rat in the community.

2.3 Recovery criteria

The criteria for achieving these objectives will be:

1. Maintenance of (or increase in) habitat quality and extent at existing known sites through appropriate fire management, stock exclusion and feral cat management.

This criterion will be satisfied when key habitat parameters and threatening processes are defined, the extent of these is known, fire management and where necessary stock/feral predator exclusion practices are established which maintain (or increase) habitat extent. This criterion will be ongoing.

2. Continue research into ecology and population demography to fill current information gaps.

Significant information gaps have been highlighted by the modelling process (see Brook et al. 2002). This criterion will be satisfied when these knowledge deficiencies have been prioritised and addressed through appropriate research projects and when such information can be incorporated into the conservation management of the species. This will include the collection of adequate spatial data on the available habitat at each site and the identification of habitat critical to the survival of the species. This criterion will be ongoing.

3. Continue to adapt established PVA models as new information becomes available.

This criterion will be satisfied as iterative models can be generated that include new data collected during the above mentioned research process. It is expected that this criterion will be initially met within one year of implementation and further developed and adapted in an ongoing process.

4. Maintain a viable captive breeding population.

A strategy for the maintenance of such a breeding colony should be established, and should consider the desirable number taken from the wild (a balance between as large as possible to maintain genetic heterogeneity, and as small as possible to minimise impacts of removal from wild populations); the sources from which the population is derived; optimum sex ratios and age composition; and the number of sites in which the population is housed. The criteria will be satisfied when there is an assurance that the breeding colony would be capable of supplying 20 individuals (or other number determined more precisely with adaptive PVA) to found a new wild colony or restore a colony destroyed by catastrophe. This criterion will be ongoing.

5. Investigate aspects of the biology of Carpentarian Rock-rats that can be carried out on captive animals.

This criterion will be met when biological data are generated from the captive colony. Longevity, mortality, dietary and breeding biology are all aspects which can be studied in the captive population. This criterion will be ongoing.

6. Experimentally release captive bred individuals into a potentially suitable area not currently occupied.

Initial modelling suggests that a successful translocation would not significantly reduce the species risk of extinction (Brook et al. 2002). However if captive bred individuals are released into a new site as part of a well designed experiment, important information can be gained through monitoring their survival and progress (or extinction). This criterion will be satisfied when an experimental release of individuals results in the collection of useful information relevant to the conservation management of the species. This criterion should be met within three years of Recovery Plan initiation, and monitoring will be ongoing through mark-recapture and radio-tracking methods.

7. Raise the profile of Carpentarian Rock-rats in the community.

This criterion will be satisfied when interpretive materials are available to the general public and there is increased community awareness and involvement in the project. Also when progress and final reports are successfully submitted and publications are accepted in refereed scientific journals. This criterion will be met within four years of Recovery Plan implementation.