Lagorchestes conspicillatus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Diprotodontia Macropodidae

Scientific Name: Lagorchestes conspicillatus
Species Authority: Gould, 1842
Common Name(s):
English Spectacled Hare-wallaby, Spectacled Hare Wallaby

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2015-06-15
Assessor(s): Winter, J., Woinarski, J. & Burbidge, A.
Reviewer(s): Johnson, C.N. & Hawkins, C.
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining at the rate required to qualify for listing in a threatened category. However, the populations that are in the decline, such as in the Pilbara and those in central Queensland, require close monitoring.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is found mainly in Australia, where it is occurs as two distinct subspecies: Lagorchestes conspicillatus conspicillatus and L. c. leichardti. The species has been recorded on New Guinea (Papua New Guinea only) (Hitchcock 1997), but little is known about its presence there.

L. c. conspicillatus is restricted to Barrow Island, Western Australia. It is extinct from Hermite and Trimouille Islands, of the Montebello Islands (A. Burbidge pers. comm.).

L. c. leichardti formerly occupied almost half of the Australian continent, and was found as far south as the MacDonnell Ranges (Northern Territory, 24°S) and Rockhampton (Queensland) (Maxwell et al. 1996). Its distribution is now extremely patchy. In Western Australia it is now rare and reduced to a few isolated populations in the Pilbara and Kimberley regions (very rare in the latter) (Maxwell et al. 1996). In Northern Territory it still occurs sparsely in the Tanami bioregion; near Newcastle Waters it is found in Acacia woodland, whereas near Borroloola in the Gulf Coastal bioregion it occurs in savannah woodland (Langford and Pavey 2002). It has disappeared from the southern-most parts of its range, now rarely occurring south of 21°S – a range contraction of more than 200 km. L. c. leichardti is common in suitable habitat between 16o-18o S (Maxwell et al. 1996). In Queensland it is widespread, recorded from Weipa on Cape York west to Dajarra and south to Rolleston near Rockhampton. Its extent of occurrence has not altered markedly in Queensland, although there is strong evidence of a marked decline in abundance in the south-eastern parts of its range (i.e, the central highlands area), and area of occupancy may have declined 20-30% due to broadscale clearing and development (Maxwell et al. 1996).
Countries occurrence:
Australia; Papua New Guinea
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is patchily distributed, but common in some parts of its range (uncommon elsewhere). It is rare in the Pilbara and Kimberly regions of Western Australia.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:L. c. conspicillatus occurs throughout Barrow Island and shelters in large Triodia hummocks (Burbidge and Johnson 2008; A. Burbidge pers. comm.).

L. c. leichardti occupies a wide variety of habitat types including: open forests, open woodland, tall shrublands, tussock grasslands and hummock grasslands. In the central part of its range in Northern Territory, it particularly favours Acacia shirleyi/Macropteranthes kekwickii thickets (Lancewood/Bullwaddy) with an open understorey. In the drier southern parts of its range it commonly occupies spinifex (Triodia spp.) sandplains interspersed with low shrubs and a diversity of either soft grasses, sedges, or forb species. In the northern part of its range in Northern Territory and in Queensland it occupies open woodlands or open forests (generally Eucalyptus spp., Erythrophleum chlorostachys, Terminalia canescens or Lysiphyllum cunninghamii), with a tussock grass understorey. Predominant grass species in central and northern Queensland include Themeda triandra, Bothriocloa ewartiana and Heteropogon contortus. This species frequently feeds in areas regenerating after fire (Maxwell et al. 1996).

It is generally a solitary species, but up to three may be seen feeding together. Breeding occurs throughout the year. Young leave the pouch at about five months, and females become reproductively active at twelve months (Langford and Pavey 2002).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The reasons for decline of L. c. leichardti are probably many and varied in different parts of the range (Maxwell et al. 1996). There is little direct evidence to determine the exact factors, but these probably include introduced predators (foxes in southern parts of the range and possibly cats), and competitors, the pastoral industry (particularly sheep in the Pilbara and cattle in the central southern Kimberley and Queensland) and changes in fire regimes (central Australia). In central Queensland, intensive land use coupled with the effects of the long drought conditions has led to a decrease in the number of shelter sites (tussock grasses reduced in structure) and thereby increasing the probability of predation by dingoes (Maxwell et al. 1996). Here, too, the species seems to be stable where stocking rates are conservative: property sizes in the area are large enough to have flexible stocking rates and allow for paddock spelling. Fire is also used as a management tool – summer mosaic burns of which the stock and wallabies take advantage. Properties in the area have been managed in a constant manner for the last 60 years (Maxwell et al. 1996). In the Northern Territory, Spectacled Hare-wallaby populations seem secure in the belt of Lancewood/Bullwaddy woodland extending between 16o and 18o S. However, clearing of woodland for grazing, uncontrolled burning and logging of Acacia shirleyi forests are considered threatening processes for the species in this region (Langford and Pavey 2002).

L. c. conspicillatus on Barrow Island has a limited range and is potentially threatened by the introduction of predators (e.g., feral cats).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The populations that are in the decline, such as in the Pilbara and those in central Queensland, require close monitoring to ensure that they do not decline in the future at a major rate.

There is no existing management program for the Spectacled Hare-wallaby in the Northern Territory (Langford and Pavey 2002). Management priorities for this region and others include: increase protection of vegetation types poorly represented in the reserve system (e.g., Lancewood/Bullwaddy thickets of Northern Territory, Eucalyptus woodland of northern and central Northern Territory and central Queensland); enter into protective agreements with landowners having populations of L. c. leichardti on their properties; determine locations, size and factors threatening populations, particularly in Western Australia and Queensland; more detailed ecological studies of the species e.g., habitat requirements, home range, dispersal patterns, social organisation, reproductive physiology, natural cycles in population size; determine response to different fire regimes and to different land management practices (e.g., grazing, clearing, burning, dingo baiting) in order to establish appropriate management techniques and conservation options, especially on pastoral land; assess current population densities and viability in different parts of the range; study effects of introduced predators (particularly cats and foxes) on population size and distribution; detailed study of population genetics required to clarify taxonomic status of various populations and extent of genetic variation within populations. This species has also been recorded from Kakadu National Park, and probably occurs in Katherine Gorge National Park (Langford and Pavey 2002).

L. c. conspicillatus is present within the Barrow Island Nature Reserve, where it appears to be secure (Burbidge and Johnson 2008).

Citation: Winter, J., Woinarski, J. & Burbidge, A. 2016. Lagorchestes conspicillatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T11161A21954319. . Downloaded on 22 July 2017.
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