Potorous longipes 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Diprotodontia Potoroidae

Scientific Name: Potorous longipes Seebeck & Johnston, 1980
Common Name(s):
English Long-footed Potoroo

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B1ab(ii,iii,v)+2ab(ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2014-04-06
Assessor(s): Woinarski, J. & Burbidge, A.A.
Reviewer(s): Johnson, C.N.
Contributor(s): McKnight, M.W., Claridge, A., Menkhorst, P. & Murray, A.
This species is listed as Vulnerable because its area of occupancy (AOO) is between 1,000 km2 and its extent of occurrence (EOO) is between 9,907 km2, it occurs at 3 threat-defined locations and is undergoing continuing decline in AOO, habitat extent and quality and in number of mature individuals because of a variety of threats.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

The Long-footed Potoroo is restricted to mainland south-eastern Australia, where it is currently known from three small disjunct areas. In near-coastal East Gippsland it has been recorded from more than 60 separate sites (‘sites include clusters of records’: Department of Sustainability and Environment 2009) within an area of c. 1600 km2. More recent (post 2008) records from road-kills and camera trapping, including at Cape Conran and west of the Snowy River, increase this known range (Department of Sustainability and Environment 2009; A. Murray pers. comm. 2014). An inland subpopulation in the Great Dividing Range of north-eastern Victoria (around the Barry Ranges and the headwaters of the Wonnangatta, Buffalo, Buckland and Ovens Rivers) is known from more than 60 sites within an area of more than 3000 km2 (Department of Sustainability and Environment 2009). The third subpopulation occurs in far south-eastern New South Wales, including the South-East Forests National Park and Bondi, Nungatta and Yambulla State Forests, within an area of 200 km2 (Nunan et al. 2000). Within these three broad locations (totalling 4,800 km2), Long-footed Potoroos are likely to occur in ‘only a relatively small proportion of the area’ (Department of Sustainability and Environment 2009).

Reflecting its recent discovery, the difficulty of detecting the species, and continuing targeted searching, the known range of the Long-footed Potoroo has increased over the last 20-30 years. However, this increase simply reflects more knowledge rather than range expansion, and the extent to which its actual range may have changed historically or in recent decades is unknown. Some limited fossil records, a 1900 specimen from near Rosedale (to the west of its current known range), and some clearing and intensive forestry activities in and around parts of its known range suggest that its actual range has probably declined slightly since European settlement.

Countries occurrence:
Australia (New South Wales, Victoria)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:1000Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:9907
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:3Continuing decline in number of locations:No
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:NoLower elevation limit (metres):100
Upper elevation limit (metres):1100
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


There has been no robust estimate of the population size of this species, nor that of any of its subpopulations. Currently, population estimation is constrained by the difficulty of detecting the species, and the localized scale at which it is mostly being studied. It is generally accepted to be ‘rare’ (McKnight 2008). The total population size ‘seems unlikely to … exceed a few thousand individuals, and may be no more than a few hundred’ (Nunan et al. 2000; McKnight 2008).

Given the limited information on population size and historical distribution, the population trend is unknown (McKnight 2008), although is probably declining due to current fire regimes, predation and other factors. Although this information cannot be used to define population trends, an unprecedented number of roadkills has been reported recently in far eastern Gippsland in an area now subjected to intensive fox baiting under the recently established Southern Ark program, with 11 records in a 23 month period to November 2012, compared with fewer than five across the previous 20 years (A. Murray pers. comm. 2014).

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:3000Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
No. of subpopulations:3Continuing decline in subpopulations:No
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

The Long-footed Potoroo is a mostly nocturnal, terrestrial small marsupial. It occurs in a range of forest types, including warm temperate rainforests, wet eucalypt forests and shrubby dry forests, particularly where there is a dense understorey, a mixed-species overstorey and moist friable soils (Seebeck et al. 1989; Nunan et al. 2000). It has been recorded from 100 to 1,400 m a.s.l. (Nunan et al. 2000; Department of Sustainability and Environment 2009). Long-footed Potoroos are probably territorial, with home range size varying from 14-60 hectares, larger in males than females (Green et al. 1998). Underground-fruiting fungi comprise the vast bulk of its diet, with some invertebrates and plant material also eaten (Green et al. 1999). Like other species of Potoroidae that feed on hypogeal fungi, the Long-footed Potoroos provides ecosystem services consisting of improving soil condition by digging through and turning over soil, and dispersing the spores of the ectomycorrhizal fungi on which it feeds, thereby benefitting plants by promoting mycorrhizal symbiosis. The abundance and diversity of fungi is affected by season and rainfall, fire regimes, logging and other disturbances (Claridge et al. 2000).

The Long-footed Potoroo is probably monogamous (Scotts and Seebeck 1989). Breeding may occur throughout the year, although births (of a single young) may peak in late winter and early spring (Green and Mitchell 1997).

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):5-7
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Major threats to the species include predation from foxes, dingoes, and feral dogs, which may lead to the low densities at which this species has been found (Menkhorst and Seebeck 2008). Introduced pigs might be competitors for this species' specialized food requirements. Inappropriate fire regimes might also affect the fungi on which this species depends. Logging activities appear to be detrimental to the species, but further research is required for confirmation (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 2002).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

A Recovery Plan for this species was developed in 2000 (Nunan et al. 2000). An Action Statement, consistent with the Recovery Plan, was implemented in Victoria (Department of Sustainability and Environment 2009), and a Research Plan (Broome et al. 1997) and Recovery Plan (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 2002) was implemented in New South Wales. Most of the actions in these Plans have been implemented, mostly successfully . Surveys have substantially extended the known range. Broad-scale fox management, under the Southern Ark program, appears to have been instrumental in stabilizing if not increasing the population size in at least some areas (A. Murray pers. comm. in Woinarski et al. 2014).

Since its relatively recent discovery, the Long-footed Potoroo has been subject to specific protection measures, with exclusion of forestry activities and intensive baiting of introduced predators (targeting foxes) around known localities in Victoria. In New South Wales, much of the known range of the species now occurs within the boundaries of conservation reserves, so ongoing forestry activities are not an issue. Ongoing 1080 baiting of introduced predators is also a high priority management action in that State. Across the Australia-wide distribution of the species there has been significant survey effort as well as some ecological research.

 A captive population was maintained for several years at Healesville Sanctuary in Victoria, but was not viable in the long-term due to lack of replenishment over time and poor breeding success (Department of Sustainability and Environment 2009).

Citation: Woinarski, J. & Burbidge, A.A. 2016. Potorous longipes. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T18102A21960440. . Downloaded on 26 September 2018.
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