National Recovery Plan for the Plains Mouse (Pseudomys australis)

Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (SA), 2012

ISBN 978 0 9806503 1 0

The plains mouse (Pseudomys australis) is a social rodent which lives in colonies that are usually small in size but increase dramatically after good rains, sometimes irrupting into plagues. Rainfall triggers an increase in available resources in the species' habitat that results in high levels of reproduction. Numbers remain high while conditions are favourable and then decline rapidly. The plains mouse is one of the largest rodents still inhabiting the arid zone.

Historical records (pre-1980) and sub-fossil bone material suggests the plains mouse was once widespread throughout the arid and semi-arid regions of Australia The distribution of the plains mouse has declined by 50-90% since European settlement. The species now occupies a north/south band of stony plain habitat to the west of Lake Eyre and extending from Pernatty Station in South Australia to Andado Station in the Northern Territory. Outlying recent records indicate the presence of the species further east but may not be an indicator of additional isolated populations or an extension of its range. These are one-off records and may be due to temporary increases and spread of the species due to good conditions or large scale dispersal by predators. Further follow-up surveys of these records are required to clarify the distributions and are identified as a priority recovery action in this plan.

Threatening processes have not been clearly identified for the plains mouse, but predation and habitat degradation due to intensive stock grazing may significantly impact their colonies. Populations close to watering points may be under threat as a result of stock grazing and predation. These threatening processes are thought to be responsible for the decline of many arid zone mammal species, especially those within the critical weight range of 35 g to 5.5 kg.

This recovery plan sets out the actions necessary to stop the decline of, and support the recovery of the plains mouse (Pseudomys australis).