Notomys fuscus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Rodentia Muridae

Scientific Name: Notomys fuscus (Jones, 1925)
Common Name(s):
English Dusky Hopping-mouse
French Souris Sauteuse
Spanish Ratones Saltadores De Australia
Taxonomic Notes:

No subspecies are recognised for this species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B2ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2012-12-31
Assessor(s): Woinarski, J. & Burbidge, A.A.
Reviewer(s): Amori, G.
Contributor(s): Southgate, R., Owens, H., Dickman, C., Brandle, R. & Pedler, R.
The Dusky Hopping-mouse lives in an area of extreme variation in rainfall and is suffering a continuing decline in quality of habitat. During drought years, it has a small area of occupancy (AOO <2,000 km²), a small population size and occurs as small, isolated, severely fragmented subpopulations. Therefore it is assessed as Vulnerable under criteiron B.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

The Dusky Hopping-mouse has been recorded in arid South Australia (Watts and Aslin 1981, Moseby and Brandle 1999), southern Northern Territory, south-western Queensland (Dickman et al. 2008a) and north-western New South Wales (Dickman et al. 2008b). There have been no records from the Northern Territory since 1939 (Woinarski et al. 2007). Burbidge et al. (2009), using modern, historical and subfossil data, recorded it in eight IBRA (Interim Bioregionalisation for Australia) bioregions, noting that it was extinct in five and declined or seriously declined in the remaining three.

Ardeotis Biological Consultants (2007) extended the known range to the south and west. Recent records are from the Channel Country and Simpson Strzelecki Dunefield Bioregions in Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales. Trapping and track-based surveys in north-eastern South Australia in 2011-12 demonstrated a major reinvasion of the former range of this species in areas to the south and west of the Simpson-Strzelecki Desert Dunefields Bioregion (potentially an extra ca. 25,000 km²) following higher than average rainfall in 2010-12 (Southgate and Moseby 2011, Southgate et al. 2012), the known distribution being extended southward almost to the Barrier Highway and westward to the Flinders Ranges.

A 2007 record from the Beverley mine lease, north of Lake Frome, extended its known range south-westward (Waudby and How 2008). A recent capture from the Broken Hill Complex Bioregion in an atypical habitat (bluebush shrubland) and new locality ca. 170 km south of the nearest New South Wales record may indicate a significant population eruption and subsequent migration into new areas following the widespread ephemeral and perennial plant production pulse that occurred after widespread heavy rainfall in 2010 (Val et al. 2012).

Countries occurrence:
Australia (New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:896Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):No
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:235400
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):NoExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:6Continuing decline in number of locations:No
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


At many sites abundance varies with rainfall in a ‘boom and bust’ environment. Watts and Aslin (1981) reported observations by Sturt suggesting that it was common near the Flinders Ranges in 1847. Moseby et al. (1999) inferred a total population bigger than 10,000 individuals, but smaller than 2,500 individuals during drought. There are much higher numbers following good rainfall years, e.g. during 2011 in South Australia following high rainfall in 2010 and 2011 (Southgate et al. 2012). In 2011, trapping at Wooltana recorded the highest density of Dusky Hopping-mice (10 individuals/hectare) since trapping records began in South Australia in 1993; however, capture rate dropped to 0-0.5% when the sites were re-trapped in 2012 as the species began to contract under drier conditions. Track imprints were detected on 70% of 60 track-based monitoring plots sampled in 2011 and 43% of plots re-sampled in 2012 (Southgate et al. 2012).

Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:UnknownPopulation severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

The Dusky Hopping-mouse is found on longitudinal and irregular stabilised dune fields where perennial plant species such as Nitre Bush (Nitraria billardierei) and Sandhill Canegrass (Zygochloa paradoxa) persist; however, it has not been found on dunes dominated by Spinifex (Triodia spp). Moseby et al. (2006) studied the species at Pelican Waterhole, south-western Queensland, and Montecollina Bore in north east South Australia over an eight-year period. Whilst the population at Montecollina Bore exhibited large fluctuations in size, captures at Pelican Waterhole were lower but more consistent. Recaptures between sessions at Montecollina Bore peaked at 60% but no individuals were recaptured at Pelican Waterhole. They reported that the abundance of Dingoes and low Cat and Red Fox activity may contribute to the persistence of the Dusky Hopping-mouse at the two study sites, although low densities of Cats and foxes appears to be the case only during drought (Moseby et al. 2006). Letnic et al. (2009) showed that the Dusky Hopping-mouse was more abundant where Dingoes occurred and found that that generalised linear modelling showed that Dusky Hopping-mouse abundance was associated positively with Dingo activity and long-term annual rainfall, and negatively with Red Fox activity.

The 2011 and 2012 surveys in north-eastern South Australia found Dusky Hopping-mice to be occupying a wide range of landform types (rocky ranges, gibber plains, sand dunes, sand plains) but nearly always in association with at least small sandy areas. Sandy habitat is needed for the Dusky Hopping-mouse to build the burrow systems it requires to live communally and breed. Isolated sand dunes or rises were inhabited despite being separated by several kilometres of hard substrate indicating Dusky Hopping-mice are capable of dispersing over considerable distances and colonising small patches of suitable habitat (Southgate et al. 2012).

Many subpopulations are found in habitats highly degraded by overgrazing by Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and livestock (Moseby et al. 1999, Owens et al. 2008). The Dusky Hopping-mouse digs burrow systems on the stable crests and slopes of dunes and within sand hummocks, the depth varying with habitat but commonly being ca. 1 m deep with some up to 2 m deep. Animals live in groups of up to five individuals. At night they forage over a wide area, commonly 400 m per night and up to 1.5 km over three nights (Owens et al. 2008).

Monitoring has shown that some subpopulations persist with low, yet stable numbers, while others vary in a boom-bust cycle in response to varying rainfall and resource availability (Owens et al. 2008).

Litter size is between one and five. Both sexes reach maturity at 70 days (Aslin and Watts 1980). Longevity in the wild has been recorded as up to 13 months (Owens et al. 2008). In captivity other Notomys live to 5.3 to 6.4 years of age (AnAge 2012), but old captive Notomys may stop breeding (C. Dickman pers. comm). Generation length is here assumed to be 1-2 years.

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):1.5
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The Dusky Hopping-mouse is not utilized.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The major threats are habitat degradation and resource depletion by livestock and feral herbivores (moderate to severe, entire range): loss of burrowing and feeding habitat in areas degraded by Rabbits and stock. However, the species can survive in at least some degraded areas (Owens et al. 2008); there is some circumstantial evidence to suggest that the species’ range expansion/re-invasion has occurred following reduced rabbit numbers after the introduction of Rabbit calicivirus, in combination with high rainfall years (Southgate et al. 2012).

Predation by feral Domestic Cats (Felis catus; moderate to severe, across the entire range) and Red Foxes (Vulpes vulpes) represent another major threat: cats take rodents of this size and hyper-predation has been linked to decline in rodents in low productivity landscapes (Smith and Quin 1996, TSSC 2008). Letnic et al. (2009) showed, about predation by Red Foxes, that Dusky Hopping-mouse abundance was associated negatively with Red Fox activity.

There is competition from House Mice (Mus musculus; minor to moderate, across the entire range): the House Mouse is very common at times in sites where Dusky Hopping-mouse occurs (Moseby et al. 1999, TSSC 2008); although, the effects are not clear.

Climate change (minor-moderate in short to medium term, entire range) could represent a major threat: if rainfall reduces or high rainfall events become less frequent and droughts more frequent, the species may decline or disappear.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There is no recovery plan in place for this species.

Biological surveys within range are conducted and help determine current status. There is no species-specific management apart from monitoring.

Biannual monitoring was carried out at two known refuge sites by the South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources from 1992-2000 (H. Owens pers. comm). Monitoring is currently carried out on trapping grids in north-eastern South Australia (Southgate et al. 2012). Dusky Hopping-mice can be captured in Ellliott traps, but pitfall traps are more effective. Pitfall traps need to be least 600 mm deep to capture Notomys effectively. Track-based monitoring is highly effective in detecting Notomys occurrence, but tracks can not be used to distinguish among the extant Notomys species (R. Southgate pers. comm).

Citation: Woinarski, J. & Burbidge, A.A. 2016. Notomys fuscus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T14863A22401596. . Downloaded on 16 October 2018.
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