Isoodon auratus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Peramelemorphia Peramelidae

Scientific Name: Isoodon auratus
Species Authority: (Ramsay, 1887)
Common Name(s):
English Golden Bandicoot
French Péramèle Doré
Taxonomic Notes: The taxonomy of the Isoodon obesulus / auratus group has been confused. Pope et al. (2001) and Zenger et al. (2005) suggested that I. auratus is possibly conspecific with I. obesulus, but the two forms were allopatric even if the late Pleistocene subfossil material is included (McKenzie et al. 2008), and Westerman et al. (2012) showed that the two species were distinct. The status of subspecies of I. auratus has also been unclear, but Westerman et al. (2012) agreed that I. a. arnhemensis should be merged with I. a. auratus and that I. a. barrowensis was also close to I. a. auratus.

We have evaluated I. auratus as a single species with no subspecies and have evaluated I. peninsulae as a separate species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B2ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2012-12-31
Assessor(s): Burbidge, A.A. & Woinarski, J.
Reviewer(s): Pacifici, M.
Contributor(s): James, A., Legge, S., McKenzie, N., Morris, K., Tuft, K. & Ward, S.
Golden Bandicoot is endemic to Australia. It is assessed as Vulnerable because it has a small area of occupancy (AOO): the calculated AOO is 196 km² (which meets the criterion B threshold for Endangered), however the paucity of recent points in our mapping database plus knowledge of the species suggests a larger AOO (but <2,000 km²). Its distribution is severely fragmented, and there is a continuing decline in area of occupancy, suitable habitat, number of locations, and number of mature individuals.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Golden Bandicoot formerly was very widespread in western (Friend 1990), central and northern Australia extending to western Queensland, New South Wales (Ellis et al. 1991) and Victoria. It is now extinct on the mainland except in a few locations in the north-west Kimberley between Mitchell Plateau in the north (McKenzie et al. 2008) and Artesian Range in the south (Sarah Legge pers. comm). It occurs on Barrow (235 km²) and Middle (3.5 km²) Islands in the Pilbara, Lachlan (12 km²), Augustus (190 km²), Storr (19 km²) and Uwins (32.5 km²) Islands in the Kimberley (Gibson and McKenzie 2012), and Marchinbar Island (210 km²) in the Northern Territory (Woinarski et al. 1999), with recent introductions to Guluwuru (2007) and Raragala (2008-09) Islands in the Wessel group (Palmer 2009). It was extinct on Hermite Island (10 km²; Burbidge 1971), but was reintroduced there from Barrow Island in 2011 (DEC 2011). Only the Guluwuru island assisted colonisation occurred >5 years ago, the other recent assisted colonisations have been established for <5 years and they are not included in this evaluation.
Countries occurrence:
Australia (Northern Territory, Western Australia)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:200-1999,500-1999Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:294708
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):YesExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:15Continuing decline in number of locations:Yes
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:There is no robust estimate of population size. It is abundant on Barrow Island (densities of up to 10 adults ha-1 in sandy areas, and population size >20,000 individuals: McKenzie et al. 2008) and relatively abundant on some other islands, but is rare and probably declining in mainland Kimberley. The population on Marchinbar Island was estimated at 1400 individuals in 1994-95 (Woinarski et al. 2007), based on limited density information derived from radio-tracking and intensive trapping  (Southgate et al. 1996). It is abundant on some Kimberley islands.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:30000Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The Golden Bandicoot is nocturnal. On Barrow Island, Golden Bandicoots shelter in medium-sized or large spinifex Triodia spp. hummocks and in limestone caves and crevices. Food is obtained by digging and foraging and includes insects, small reptiles and mammals, sea turtle eggs, roots and tubers. Females give birth to two young, both of which may survive, throughout the year, but the proportion of females with young increases after heavy rainfall. In the Kimberley, diet includes insects and plant material. On Marchinbar Island it occurs mainly in heath and shrublands on sandstone and individuals maintain overlapping home ranges of 12-35 ha and their diet includes a broad range of invertebrates (Southgate et al. 1996). Feral dogs took bandicoots on Marchinbar but were eradicated in 2004-2005. Black Rats Rattus rattus occurred on Barrow and Middle Islands but were eradicated in 1991 (Morris 2002). A research program on Golden Bandicoots at Artesian Range, Kimberley (Australian Wildlife Conservancy/University of Tasmania) that began in late 2012 aims to describe the impacts of fire patterns and feral Cats on their ecology and survival. In this study, Golden Bandicoots have been caught in heavily dissected sandstone and in thick riparian grassland where they make a network of runways and shelter sites beneath grass tufts. Radio-tracked individuals moved regularly between shelter sites over a 600 m long riparian strip grading to grassy foothills. At some sites the Golden Bandicoot was sympatric with the Northern Brown Bandicoot I. macrourus.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):2
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): On mainland Kimberley, Golden Bandicoots are threatened by feral cats combined with changing fire regimes. These two threats work synergistically to the detriment of the species, whereby ground cover reduced by fire makes bandicoots more susceptible to predation (Palmer et al. 2003). Feral dogs on Marchinbar may have been a minor threat, but these were eradicated in 2004-2005 (Palmer and Woinarski 2006). There is a minor risk of introduced predators establishing on Barrow and Middle Islands. Lower densities on Middle Island (relative to Barrow Island) may have been due to competition from the introduced Black Rat (Rattus rattus), however, these were eradicated in 1993 and since then numbers appear to have increase (Morris 2002, McKenzie et al. 2008).

The reasons for past declines of the Golden Bandicoot are predation by feral cats and red foxes, and inappropriate fire regimes (the Aboriginal fire regime of mostly small fires and a heterogeneous landscape has been replaced by very large, hot wild fires).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

A multi-species (with Golden-backed Tree-rat Mesembriomys macrurus) recovery plan (Palmer et al. 2003) included the actions:

·         Establish cooperative management processes and procedures between various Government agencies (CALM, EA, Defence, PWCNT) and relevant Aboriginal landowners

·         Establish process and procedures for engagement of Traditional Owners and other stakeholders in Recovery Plan

·         Form northern Australian multiple species recovery group, collaborate across jurisdictions via multiple species recovery group

·         Determine current status of Golden Bandicoot population on Marchinbar Island

·         Translocate Golden Bandicoot populations on at least two other suitable islands in the Wessel or English Company Island groups of north-eastern Arnhem Land

·         Determine whether Golden Bandicoot still extant on the Napier Peninsula.

·         Identify factors that are driving the decline in critical weight mammals through a landscape scale experiment based in the Northern Territory.

·         Develop and disseminate educational and communication materials concerning fire and the introduction of feral animals, particularly cats, onto islands where the Golden Bandicoot and Golden-backed Tree-rat survives.

·         Develop contingency plan in case of feral animal introduction onto islands.

·         Produce educational packages and communication material on the Recovery Plan for all stakeholder groups in the region.

·         “Cat-watch Patrol” local people with tracking skills employed to undertake tracking transects on Marchinbar Island to monitor presence/absence of Cats, Rats, and Dogs.

Some of these actions (mostly in relation to activities in the Northern Territory) were implemented, and contributed to an improved conservation status for this taxon (notably including translocation from the single island from which the species was known in the Northern Territory to two other islands: Palmer 2009). Some actions are being carried out by Australian Wildlife Conservancy on private and public conservation land in the Artesian Range (north-west Kimberley), including monitoring to determine population trends (carried out at over 40 sites per year) and identifying the impacts of key threats (fire and feral Cats) on the Golden Bandicoot.

Barrow and Middle Islands are nature reserves vested in the Conservation Commission of Western Australia and managed by the Department of Environment and Conservation. Chevron Australia is responsible for management of the oilfield and liquefied natural gas plant and their impacts under environmental approval from the State and Commonwealth governments. Most mainland places and Kimberley islands on which Golden Bandicoots occur are Aboriginal land. Reintroduction to Hermite Island (part of the Montebello Islands Conservation Park) from Barrow Island, and introductions from Marchinbar to Guluwuru and Raragala Islands (all now within an Indigenous Protected Area) have occurred and are being monitored. A major quarantine program to minimise risks of establishment of new threats on Barrow Island is in place. There is limited regional and local fire management on mainland Kimberley. Artesian Range is managed by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.

Citation: Burbidge, A.A. & Woinarski, J. 2016. Isoodon auratus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T10863A21966258. . Downloaded on 21 January 2017.
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