Potorous tridactylus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Diprotodontia Potoroidae

Scientific Name: Potorous tridactylus (Kerr, 1792)
Common Name(s):
English Long-nosed Potoroo

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2014-05-28
Assessor(s): Woinarski, J. & Burbidge, A.A.
Reviewer(s): Johnson, C.N.
Contributor(s): Murray, A., Eldridge, M., Menkhorst, P., Lunney, D., Claridge, A. & Goldingay, R.
The species  still has a large distribution range, and is well above the thresholds for Vulnerable on the basis of extent of occurrence and area of occupancy. However, an overall decline in population size is inferred and projected, at a rate approaching but not >30% over 9-12 years (=three generations). The causes of this are increasing intensity of destructive wildfires within the species range, effects of habitat fragmentation, and continuing impacts of invasive predators, especially the Red Fox. The Long-nosed Potoroo is therefore listed as Near Threatened as it almost qualifies for a threatened listing under criterion A2ce.

Population size cannot be estimated reliably. Population trends vary across the range, with general pattern of decline (particularly for the northern subspecies) but some local increases evident in areas subjected to effective control of the Red Fox.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Long-nosed Potoroo has a patchy distribution along the coast and the Great Dividing range of the south-east Australian mainland, from south-eastern Queensland in the north, through coastal New South Wales, Victoria, and marginally in south-eastern South Australia. It is also occurs on the Bass Strait islands and Tasmania (Johnston 2008).
Countries occurrence:
Australia (New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:100000Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:473000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme 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:On the mainland, the Long-nosed Potoroo is rare, and populations are extremely fragmented; the species may undergo fluctuations in numbers. It is also rare on the Bass Straits islands but is more common in Tasmania (Johnston 2008). Subfossil remains suggest that the species was formerly more widespread. The reasons for decline are unclear, however, habitat loss through clearance of native vegetation is likely to have at least partly caused a decline in populations (Johnston 2008). The species is susceptible to effects of forest fragmentation, being rarely found in forest patches smaller than approximately 30 ha (Bennett 1990).

There has been no robust estimate of the population size of this species, nor that of most subpopulations. However, this species usually occurs in small populations with low recruitment and low turnover of individuals (Bennett 1987). Density is reported to vary from 0.2-2.5 individuals per hectare (Heinsohn 1968; Mason 1997; Frankham et al. 2011).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:75000Continuing 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 Long-nosed Potoroo occurs in a range of vegetation types characterized by dense understoreys, including shrublands, coastal scrub, heathlands, forest and woodlands, and rainforests (Seebeck et al. 1989; Johnston 2008; Norton et al. 2010). It is often most likely to occur near creeks or gullies. Optimal habitat often includes a mosaic of different vegetation types, with denser vegetation used for shelter and more open areas for foraging (Seebeck 1981; Bennett 1993; Norton et al. 2010). Hypogeal (underground-fruiting) fungi comprise most of the diet (Claridge et al. 1993). The species provides significant ecosystem services through its foraging for hypogea fungi, in two ways. First, digging for fungi produces substantial turnover of soil, which improves soil condition and water infiltration (Fleming et al. 2014). Second, the Long-nosed Potoroo disperses spores of these fungi in its faeces. Because these fungi are mycorrhizal, feeding by the Potoroo promotes formation of mycorrhiza and benefits many plant species (Claridge et al. 1992). The diet also includes some invertebrates, fruits, seeds, leaves, roots, and flowers (Bennett and Baxter 1989).

Long-nosed Potoroos are mostly solitary. Home range size is 1-19 ha, with home ranges larger in males than females (Kitchener 1973; Long 2001). The species shows limited dispersal ability (A. Murray pers. comm. 2014). Reproduction occurs year-round, with a single young produced at a time (Guiler 1960; Bryant 1989; Norton et al. 2011; Frankham et al. 2011). Females typically produce 2-3 young per year (Bennett 1987; Seebeck et al. 1989). Sexual maturity is reached at one year (Bennett 1987; Bryant 1989), and longevity can be at least seven years (Guiler and Kitchener 1967) but is more generally four to five years (Martin and Temple-Smith 2012). Generation length is around three years.

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):3-4
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

In the past, this species was persecuted (by shooting, trapping and poisoning) as an assumed agricultural pest, and hunted for its hide and meat, with large numbers killed (Short 1998; Claridge et al. 2007).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The major threat is predation, especially by the invasive Red Fox (Brown and Triggs 1990; Lunney et al. 1990, 2002; Short 1998; Martin and Temple-Smith 2012), but also by wild dogs and feral cats. Habitat quality is affected by clearing and fragmentation, fires that are too frequent or too intense, livestock, and timber harvesting (Bennett 1993; Norton et al. 2011; Martin and Temple-Smith 2012).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The Long-nosed Potoroo occurs in many conservation reserves, where it is protected from some threats. Fox control is conducted in and around some sites (particularly in New South Wales and Victoria), and fire management is considered explicitly in some management planning (Martin and Temple-Smith 2012). Management investment and protection is generally greater on the Australian mainland (where subspecies are listed as threatened) than in Tasmania.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
3. Shrubland -> 3.4. Shrubland - Temperate
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
2. Land/water management -> 2.2. Invasive/problematic species control
3. Species management -> 3.2. Species recovery

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:Yes
  Systematic monitoring scheme:Yes
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over part of range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Percentage of population protected by PAs (0-100):21-30
  Area based regional management plan:Yes
  Invasive species control or prevention:Yes
In-Place Species Management
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:No
In-Place Education
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.2. Intentional use: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.1. Fire & fire suppression -> 7.1.1. Increase in fire frequency/intensity
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Canis familiaris ]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Felis catus ]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Vulpes vulpes ]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.4. Habitat trends

Bibliography [top]

Bennett, A.F. 1987. Conservation of mammals within a fragmented forest environment: the contributions of insular biogeography and autecology. In: D.A. Saunders, G.W. Arnold, A.A. Burbidge, and A.J.M. Hopkins (eds), Nature conservation: the role of remnants of native vegetation, pp. 41–52. Surrey Beatty and Sons, Chipping Norton.

Bennett, A. F. 1990. Land use, forest fragmentation and the mammalian fauna at Naringal, south-western Victoria. Australian Wildlife Research 17: 325-348.

Bennett, A.F. 1993. Microhabitat use by the Long-nosed Potoroo, Potorous tridactylus, and other small mammals in remnant forest vegetation of south-western Victoria. Wildlife Research 20: 267-285.

Bennett, A.F., and Baxter, B.J. 1989. Diet of the Long-nosed Potoroo, Potorous tridactylus (Marsupialia, Potoroidae), in southwestern Victoria. Australian Wildlife Research 16: 263–271.

Brown, G.W., and Triggs, B.E. 1990. Diets of wild canids and foxes in East Gippsland 1983–1987, using predator scat analysis. Australian Mammalogy 13: 209–213.

Bryant, S.L. 1989. Growth, development, and breeding patterns of the long-nosed potoroo, Potorous tridactylus (Kerr, 1792). In: G. Grigg, P. Jarman, and I. Hume (eds), Kangaroos, wallabies and rat-kangaroos, pp. 449-456. Surrey Beatty and Sons, Chipping Norton.

Claridge, A. W., Seebeck, J. H., and Rose, R. 2007. Bettongs, Potoroos and the Musky Rat-Kangaroo. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood.

Claridge, A. W., Tanton, M. T., and Cunningham, R. B. 1993. Hypogeal fungi in the diet of the Long-Nosed Potoroo (Potorous tridactylus) in mixed-species and regrowth eucalypt forest stands in south-eastern Australia. Wildlife Research 20: 321–337.

Claridge, A. W., Tanton, M. T., Seebeck, J. H., Cork, S. J., Cunningham, R. B. 1992. Establishment of ectomycorrhizae on the roots of two species of Eucalyptus from fungal spores contained in the faeces of the long-nosed potoroo (Potorous tridactylus). Australian Journal of Ecology 17: 207-217.

Dexter, N., and Murray, A. 2009. The impact of fox control on the relative abundance of forest mammals in East Gippsland, Victoria. Wildlife Research 36: 252-261.

Fleming, P. A., Anderson, H., Prendergast, A. S., Bretz, M. R., Valentine, L. E. Hardy, G. E. StJ. 2014. s the loss of Australian digging mammals contributing to a deterioration in ecosystem function? Mammal Review 44: 94-108.

Frankham, G. J., Reed, R. L., Fletcher, T. P., and Handasyde, K. A. 2011. Population ecology of the long-nosed potoroo (Potorous tridactylus) on French Island, Victoria. Australian Mammalogy 33: 73-81.

Guiler, E. R. 1960. The breeding season of Potorous tridactylus (Kerr). Australian Journal of Science 23: 126-127.

Guiler, E. R., and Kitchener, D. A. 1967. Further observations on longevity in the wild potoroo, Potorous tridactylus. Australian Journal of Science 30: 105–106.

Heinsohn, G. E. 1968. Habitat requirements and reproductive potential of the macropod marsupial Potorous tridactylus in Tasmania. Mammalia 32: 30–43.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-1. Available at: (Accessed: 30 June 2016).

Johnston, P. G. 2008. Long-nosed Potoroo, Potorous tridactylus. In: S. Van Dyck and R. Strahan (eds), The mammals of Australia. Third Edition, pp. 302-304. Reed New Holland, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Kitchener, D. J. 1973. Notes on the home range and movement in two small macropods, the potoroo (Potorous apicalis) and the quokka (Setonix brachyurus). Mammalia 37: 231-240.

Long, K. I. 2001. Spatio-temporal interactions among male and female Long-nosed Potoroos, Potorous tridactylus (Marsupialia: Macropodoidea): mating system implications. Australian Journal of Zoology 49: 17–26.

Lunney, D., Matthews, A., and Triggs. B. 2002. Long-term changes in the mammal fauna of logged coastal forests near Bega, New South Wales, detected by analysis of dog and fox scats. Australian Mammalogy 23: 101–114.

Lunney, D., Triggs, B., Eby, P., and Ashby, E. 1990. Analysis of scats of Dogs Canis familiaris and Foxes Vulpes vulpes (Carnivora: Canidae) in coastal forests near Bega, New South Wales. Australian Wildlife Research 17: 61–68.

Martin, D., and Temple-Smith, P. 2012. National recovery plan for the Long-nosed Potoroo Potorous tridactylus tridactylus. Department of Sustainability and Environment, Melbourne.

Mason, R. J. 1997. Habitat use and population size of the Long-nosed Potoroo, Potorous tridactylus (Marsupialia: Potoroidae) in a coastal reserve, north-eastern New South Wales. Australian Mammalogy 20: 35–42.

Norton, M. A., Claridge, A. W., French, K., and Prentice, A. 2011. Population biology of the long-nosed potoroo (Potorous tridactylus) in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. Australian Journal of Zoology 58: 362-368.

Norton, M. A., French, K., and Claridge, A. W. 2010. Habitat associations of the long-nosed potoroo (Potorous tridactylus) at multiple spatial scales. Australian Journal of Zoology 58: 303-316.

Seebeck, J. H. 1981. Potorous tridactylus (Kerr) (Marsupialia: Macropodidae): its distribution, status and habitat preferences in Victoria. Australian Wildlife Research 8: 285-306.

Seebeck, J. H., Bennett, A. F., and Scotts, D. J. 1989. Ecology of the Potoroidae - a review. In: G. Grigg, P. Jarman, and I. Hume (eds), Kangaroos, wallabies and rat-kangaroos, pp. 67–88. Surrey Beatty and Sons, Chipping Norton.

Short, J. 1998. The extinction of rat-kangaroos (Marsupialia: Potoroidae) in New South Wales, Australia. Biological Conservation 86: 365-377.

Woinarski, J.C.Z., Burbidge, A.A. and Harrison, P.L. 2014. The Action Plan for Australian Mammals 2012. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood.

Citation: Woinarski, J. & Burbidge, A.A. 2016. Potorous tridactylus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T41511A21960633. . Downloaded on 25 May 2018.
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