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Melomys rubicola

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA RODENTIA MURIDAE

Scientific Name: Melomys rubicola
Species Authority: Thomas, 1924
Common Name(s):
English Bramble Cay Melomys, Bramble Cay Mosaic-tailed Rat

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered D ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Leary, T., Singadan, R., Menzies, J., Wright, D. & Thomson, B.
Reviewer(s): Lamoreux, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team) & Amori, G. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority)
Justification:
Listed as Critically Endangered because the population size is unlikely to exceed 50 mature individuals. The species also has a very small extent of occurrence and area of occupancy. There are no indications of a decline at present, but the island could easily be destroyed by a severe storm or by sea level rise in the long term.
History:
1996 Critically Endangered

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is endemic to Bramble Cay, a small coral cay in the Torres Strait, Australia (Lee 1995; Dennis 2008). It has not been located on other islands despite intensive surveys (Lee 1995).
Countries:
Native:
Australia
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: No recent, published information is available (P. Latch pers. comm.), but there are probably less than 50 mature individuals.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Melomys rubicola is nocturnal (P. Latch pers. comm.). It lives amongst the vegetation on the cay and uses burrows as refuges (P. Latch pers. comm.). The cay, as measured in 2004, is approximately 5 ha in size with a vegetated portion 2.2 ha (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, unpublished data). It has one of the most restricted distributions of any mammal species. Little is known of the species' biology and ecology (P. Latch pers. comm.).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main threat is to its habitat. The island is eroding through natural processes (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, unpublished data), and it is possible that a major storm could eliminate all suitable habitat (Lee 1995). The introduction of any exotic plant, predator, or disease is also a significant threat to this very small, isolated population. Inbreeding depression, while potentially a threat to a small population such as this, is considered a lower risk than natural disasters or invasive species (Dickman et al. 2000).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Bramble Cay is not currently a protected area. A recovery plan has been drafted by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (Latch in prep.) Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service is currently monitoring the population and assessing cay dynamics. Recovery objectives include: establish a Bramble Cay Melomys monitoring program; clarify the extent of, and manage threats to, the Bramble Cay Melomys; improve understanding of Bramble Cay Melomys taxonomy, biology and ecology; respond to any sharp decline in the Bramble Cay Melomys population; facilitate community participation in Bramble Cay Melomys recovery. (P. Latch pers. comm.).

Additional studies include: clarify taxonomy of Bramble Cay Melomys; undertake surveys on other Torres Strait islands to locate any further populations; develop a captive breeding and reintroduction proposal if needed and identify possible new introduction site/s. Additional management actions needed, include: monitor the dynamics of Bramble Cay at regular intervals; investigate the feasibility of stabilising Bramble Cay; monitor for presence of exotic pests and disease; reduce the risk of exotic species establishing on the cay; engage the Traditional Owners in all aspects of the recovery process; promote Bramble Cay Melomys recovery to the Torres Strait and wider Australian communities (P. Latch pers. comm.).

Citation: Leary, T., Singadan, R., Menzies, J., Wright, D. & Thomson, B. 2008. Melomys rubicola. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 22 December 2014.
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