Notoryctes caurinus 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Notoryctemorphia Notoryctidae

Scientific Name: Notoryctes caurinus
Species Authority: Thomas, 1920
Common Name(s):
English Northern Marsupial Mole, Northwestern Marsupial Mole
French Petite Taupe Marsupiale
Taxonomic Source(s): Wilson, D.E. and Reeder, D.M. (eds). 2005. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographical Reference. Third edition. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Benshemesh, J. & Burbidge, A.
Reviewer(s): Lamoreux, J. & Hilton-Taylor, C. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Listed as Data Deficient because, although it has been recorded over a relatively wide area, there are only very few records, and very little is known about its population numbers and threats.
Previously published Red List assessments:
1996 Endangered (EN)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Kakarratul, or Northern Marsupial Mole, has been collected from twelve localities in the Gibson, Little Sandy, and Great Sandy Deserts of Western Australia, Australia. In 2000 specimens were also collected at Wallal Downs on the coast between Broome and Karratha, and at Kunawarritji Community (Benshemesh 2004). Both this species and Notoryctes typhlops have been recorded in the vicinity of Warburton and may be sympatric there (Benshemesh 2004). All specimens north of Warburton and west of the Northern Territory border have been identified as N. caurinus. In addition, both species may be found in the Tanami Desert, however, this is unclear (Benshemesh 2004).

There are very few specimens (around 20), but six of these have been collected in the past decade or so, despite an enormous increase in the number of people visiting its range in four-wheel drive vehicles. Maxwell et al.’s (1996) description of two of the records indicates the importance of chance in obtaining specimens of this fossorial species. An animal was found on Talawanna Track west of Cotton Creek, Western Australia, in October 1995 (Western Australia Museum), having been excavated by a bulldozer about one metre below the surface. Another came from near Nifty Mine in March 1996 after it was found nearly dead on the surface after heavy rain.
Countries occurrence:
Australia (Western Australia)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Population estimates are not available due to the lack of data, which can be attributed to the elusiveness of this species (Benshemesh 2004). There is historical information that indicates that this species was common.
Current Population Trend: Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This is a fossorial species, living in underground burrow systems within sand dunes, interdunal flats, and in sandy soils along river flats. It occasionally emerges to the surface, especially after rain (Maxwell et al. 1996). It is not able to travel large distances across hard ground, thus continuous areas of suitable habitat are likely important (Benshemesh 2004).

In 1998 a live specimen was captured on the surface at Punmu in Rudall River National Park and kept briefly in captivity. Study of this individual showed that the species has an unusual metabolism and can vary its body temperature as a probable adaptation to its fossorial way of life (Withers et al. 2000).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Little is known about major threats to this species. It is an arid zone Critical Weight Range species (Burbidge and McKenzie 1989); around 90% of such taxa have either become extinct or have declined seriously in range and/or abundance. Operating threatening processes include predation by foxes (which are capable of taking animals on or near the surface) and feral cats. Changed fire regimes in the spinifex-dominated sandy deserts may also be affecting the species. Other potential threats to this species include predation by dingoes, and habitat changes caused by the trampling of cattle and camels (Benshemesh 2004). Climate change may also be a threat to this species in the future, as projected changes in rainfall and temperature would cause changes in biota (Benshemesh 2004).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Maxwell et al. (1996) suggest that the following research actions are proposed for all marsupial moles: undertake GIS and BIOCLIM analysis of Museum records; examine reproductive, dietary and other aspects of all available specimens; develop and implement region-wide community survey for all marsupial moles; undertake field survey of key localities; establish local community-based recording and reporting schemes at key localities.

The Recovery Plan Objectives and Actions for this species are (Benshemesh 2004): 1) Resolve taxonomic issues; 2) Describe the distribution, abundance, and lineages; 3) Determine population trends; 4) Provide preliminary information on threat of fire, introduced predators (foxes and cats), and grazing; 5) Describe activity patterns and behaviour 6) Obtain ecological information from Aboriginal elders; 7) Examine diet, reproduction, and general condition of surfacing animals; 8) Prepare for captive individuals brought to Desert Park; 9) Manage the recovery process with a recovery team; 10) Downlist species from endangered to a lower category of threat.

No management actions can be defined until additional research has been completed (Maxwell et al. 1996; Benshemesh 2004).

Citation: Benshemesh, J. & Burbidge, A. 2008. Notoryctes caurinus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T14878A4467686. . Downloaded on 29 May 2016.
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