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Sminthopsis butleri

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA DASYUROMORPHIA DASYURIDAE

Scientific Name: Sminthopsis butleri
Species Authority: Archer, 1979
Common Name(s):
English Butler's Dunnart
French Souris Marsupiale De Butler

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B1ab(ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): McKnight, M.
Reviewer(s): Lamoreux, J. & Hilton-Taylor, C. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Justification:
Listed as Vulnerable because its extent of occurrence is less than 20,000 km2, all individuals are known from less than 10 locations, and there is continuing decline in: the area of occupancy, extent and quality of its habitat, and the number of mature individuals due to introduced predators, destruction and degradation of habitat, and changes to the fire regime on the Tiwi Islands. If the species continues to be unrecorded from the Kimberley, it would mark a substantial decline in the extent of occurrence and the number of known subpopulations.
History:
1996 Vulnerable (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
1996 Vulnerable
1994 Rare (Groombridge 1994)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is endemic to northern Australia, where it has a very limited distribution. It is known to occur on the Tiwi Islands (Bathurst and Melville Islands), Northern Territory within 20 km of the coast (Woolley 2008). It was described from just a few specimens collected in 1965-1966 from Kalumburu in the Kimberley, Western Australia. Subsequent survey work has failed to locate the species in the Kimberley and its continued presence here is uncertain.
Countries:
Native:
Australia
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Butler's Dunnart is a rare species. The overall population is likely to be less than 2,500 mature individuals. Only about 30 individuals have been located on the Tiwi Islands despite intensive survey work since 1991 (Woinarski 2004; Woolley 2008). The paucity of records might be due in part to conventional trapping techniques not being suited to this species (e.g., Elliott traps and pitfall traps) (Woinarski 2004). In any case, it is not a common species and its distribution within the islands is sparse. The population status in the Kimberley is unknown; it has not been located here since the 1960s.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Little is known of the ecology of this species. It does not appear to be consistently associated with any particular habitat type on the Tiwi Islands (Woinarski 2004). All known records of the species, however, have come from within 20 km of the coast (Woolley 2008), and the species does not occur within plantation forests (Firth et al. 2006). The habitat in the Kimberley was said to be heavily vegetated where backsoil country met sand plains, and the species was found among flood debris (Woinarski et al. 1996). Like other dunnarts, this species probably preys mainly upon invertebrates, but might also take small vertebrates (Woinarski 2005). Nothing is known about the reproductive biology of this species except that a female collected from the Kimberley was carrying seven pouch young (Woolley 2008).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Because this species is rarely encountered, there is little certainty about the threats to it. Its rarity, however, is likely due to variety of threatening processes. Exotic predators (cats and possibly dogs), changes to the fire regime, and the destruction and degradation of habitat are all probable major threats (Woinarski 2004). Proposals to expand exotic tree plantations on Melville Island are a major concern, because the species is not found within existing plantations (Firth et al. 2006).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Butler’s Dunnart is listed as a threatened species under Australian law. It does not occur within and any protected areas. A recovery plan was developed for the 2004-2008 period (Woinarski 2004). Recommendations from this plan include: establishing a recovery team; communicating information about the species to stakeholders; targeting research in order to make informed decisions (e.g., towards survey techniques, total number and distribution, population trends, habitat suitability, and threatening processes); minimize the impacts of feral cats; and improve fire management. The recovery plan also recommends further surveys in the Kimberley to locate this species, and these should be conducted in areas of similar habitat to the type locality, but that are less affected by human presence and its associated cats, dogs, and frequent burning of habitat (Woinarski 2004; Woolley 2008).

Citation: McKnight, M. 2008. Sminthopsis butleri. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 02 September 2014.
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