Petaurus australis 

Scope: Global

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Diprotodontia Petauridae

Scientific Name: Petaurus australis
Species Authority: Shaw, 1791
Common Name(s):
English Yellow-bellied Glider

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2014-03-09
Assessor(s): Woinarski, J., Burbidge, A.A. & Johnson, C.N.
Reviewer(s): Hawkins, C.
Contributor(s): Menkhorst, P., Quin, D., Goldingay, R., Eyre, T., Lindenmayer, D., Lunney, D. & Winter, J.
Listed as Near Threatened because the few ongoing monitoring programs demonstrate decline in population size and/or area of occupancy that may approach 30% over a three generation period, because it is likely to face ongoing decline because of legacy impacts of habitat fragmentation, recent increases in land clearing in the Queensland parts of the distribution, and because habitat quality continues to be affected by inappropriate fire regimes and/or logging. For these reasons the species may be close to meeting the requirements for listing as Vulnerable under criteria A2bc+3bc+4bc.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Yellow-bellied Glider is endemic to eastern Australia, where it occurs from the Mount Windsor tablelands (Queensland) in the north to the Victoria/ South Australia border (Goldingay 2008). There is a distributional gap of about 400 km between the undescribed Wet Tropics subspecies and nominate subspecies.
Countries occurrence:
Australia (New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:14276-200000Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:778916
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):YesExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing 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 reliable estimate of population size. Maxwell et al. (1996) considered it ‘uncommon throughout range’. Carthew (2004) estimated that there were (then) only six individuals present in South Australia, in a single 200 ha forest patch. It typically occurs at low densities (0.05-0.14 individuals/ha: Kavanagh 1984; Henry and Craig 1984; Craig 1985; Goldingay and Kavanagh 1991; Goldingay and Jackson 2004). 
Many subpopulations have been extirpated (e.g. Carthew 2004) and the key threats are likely to continue.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:50000-500000Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Yes
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

The Yellow-bellied Glider occurs in eucalypt-dominated forests and woodlands. Habitat suitability is determined in part by floristics, with a clear preference for forest types dominated by gum-barked and winter-flowering eucalypts (Kavanagh 1987; Eyre and Smith 1997; Eyre 2004), and with forest age sufficient to provide suitable trees for shelter and foraging (Milledge et al. 1991; Incoll et al. 2001; Eyre and Goldingay 2003). The Yellow-bellied Glider is reliant on large areas of mature forest (Milledge et al. 1991; Eyre and Smith 1997; Lindenmayer et al. 1999a; Incoll et al. 2001; Eyre 2002, 2004; van der Ree et al. 2004).

The Yellow-bellied Glider is social, with pairs or larger family groups (of varying age and sex composition) occupying an exclusive large home range (30-65 ha: Henry and Craig 1984; Craig 1985; Goldingay 1992; Goldingay and Kavanagh 1993). Consequently it needs large forest blocks in order to maintain population viability. Home range sizes need to be large because foraging substrates are widely dispersed and are variable through space and time (Goldingay 2000). Microhabitat preferences of Yellow-bellied Gliders may change seasonally according to patterns of flowering, bark-shed and availability of other food resources (Kavanagh 1984). In south-eastern Queensland, Eyre (2002) considered that forest fragments needed to be at least 320 km2 in order to be occupied by Yellow-bellied Gliders; and more generally Goldingay and Possingham (1995) considered that forest areas needed to be 180-350 km2 to retain viable populations. It does not persist in smaller fragments now isolated by clearing or pine plantations (Lindenmayer et al. 1999b).

The impacts of fragmentation are particularly pronounced because of this species’ apparent incapacity to traverse extensive tracts (i.e. longer than gliding distance) of cleared land. The Yellow-bellied Glider can forage in tall regrowth (Kavanagh 2004) and may tolerate moderate levels of logging disturbance, provided old trees are retained within riparian zones and key sap tree species are retained (Goldingay and Kavanagh 1993; Kavanagh 2004), although such tolerance may be somewhat site-specific and vary with landscape context and subsequent management (Milledge et al. 1991; Eyre and Smith 1997; Lindenmayer et al. 1999). Extensive disturbance by logging or wildfire is detrimental (Lunney 1987). Logging tends to reduce the proportion of large stems in a forest stand which reduces the availability of hollow-bearing trees (and den sites) and foraging substrate and food resources, including nectar, sap and invertebrates (Eyre and Smith 1997; Eyre 2002, 2004). Yellow-bellied Gliders are eliminated from clear-felled and intensively logged forests (Smith et al. 1994). Subpopulations of Yellow-bellied Gliders have declined or been extirpated from sites exposed to high intensity wildfire.

Females typically give birth to a single young annually (Goldingay 2008).

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):4.5
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Habitat loss and fragmentation due to timber-harvesting and agriculture are the main threats to this species. Due to past forest management there is a current dearth of available live hollow-bearing trees within Yellow-Bellied Glider habitats. Remaining hollow-bearing trees are therefore an important resource, but these are at risk of collapse due to regular prescribed burning regimes and windthrow. In Queensland and New South Wales (and possibly Victoria) broad-scale land clearing had been stopped due to newly introduced vegetation management legislation However, in Queensland relaxation of this legislation during the last three years has resulted in a sharp increase in forest clearing since 2013 (see The effects of this recent change on Queensland populations of the Yellow-bellied Glider have not yet been specifically evaluated, but they are potentially significant. Furthermore, degradation to existing habitat (e.g., through fire, timber removal) within the habitat of isolated populations, but also between non-isolated populations, is a major threat to the species (essentially inducing a fragmentation effect) throughout its range, due to its wide-ranging and extensive habitat requirements (Woinarski et al. 2014).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is present in a number of protected areas. Management of timber such that large areas of intact, contiguous forest remain is important for this species. Currently sap trees must be identified and preserved, but the effectiveness of this measure is uncertain (Goldingay 2008). Timber-harvesting and fire management should be aimed at maintaining tree-hollows and extensive areas of suitable forest.

Citation: Woinarski, J., Burbidge, A.A. & Johnson, C.N. 2016. Petaurus australis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T16730A21959641. . Downloaded on 29 July 2016.
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