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Macrotis lagotis

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA PERAMELEMORPHIA THYLACOMYIDAE

Scientific Name: Macrotis lagotis
Species Authority: (Reid, 1837)
Common Name(s):
English Bilby, Greater Rabbit-eared Bandicoot, Greater Bilby, Dalgyte
French Grand Bandicoot-lapin, Grand Péramèle-lapin
Spanish Cangurito Narigudo Grande
Taxonomic Notes: Current populations show very little genetic variation (Moritz et al. 1997), though there is subfossil and fossil evidence of large genetic variation. Populations of the species are currently managed separately.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable C1 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Friend, T., Morris, K. & van Weenen, J.
Reviewer(s): Lamoreux, J. & Hilton-Taylor, C. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Justification:
Listed as Vulnerable because, although it has a large extent of occurrence, it is patchily distributed; the total population size might be less than 10,000 mature individuals (it is considered as such for the purposes of listing), and the population suffers from an ongoing decline estimated to exceed 10% over the last 10 years.
History:
1996 Vulnerable
1994 Vulnerable (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Endangered (IUCN 1990)
1988 Endangered (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
1986 Endangered (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
1982 Endangered (Thornback and Jenkins 1982)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Bilby formerly occurred over 70% of the mainland Australia. Wild populations are now restricted predominantly to the Tanami Desert (Northern Territory), the Gibson and the Great Sandy Deserts (Western Australia), and one outlying population between Boulia and Birdsville (south-west Queensland) (Johnson 2008). It has gone extinct from portions of southern Queensland within the last few decades.

There are reintroduced populations in: Currawinya National Park (Queensland); Scotia Sanctuary (New South Wales); Arid Recovery at Roxby Downs, Venus Bay Conservation Park, Thistle Island, Yookamurra Sanctuary (South Australia); Dryandra Woodland, François Peron National Park (Western Australia).
Countries:
Native:
Australia (Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: About 500 individuals on Thistle Island, 500 in Arid Recovery, 100 in Venus Bay, 200 in Peron, 40 in Scotia, 200-500 in Queensland. There are fewer than 1,000 individuals in the Northern Territory and 5,000-10,000 in non-reintroduced Western Australia. The global population might be under 10,000 individuals. The species is wide-ranging and patchily distributed. The population estimates of Bilbies in the Northern Territory and Western Australia are very approximate, as there are no published numbers in peer-reviewed journals (R. Southgate pers. comm.). It is known from aerial surveys that Bilby signs (diggings) in the areas where Bilbies are persistent occur less than 15 to 20 km apart (R. Southgate pers. comm.).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Habitat of the extant populations includes tall shrublands and open woodlands of the semi-arid regions, and the hummock grasslands and sparse forblands in the arid areas of Australia (Pavey 2006). However, from its former range, the Bilby appears able to live in habitats from the driest desert areas to the temperate areas such as those found in the south, east, and west of the country (Pavey 2006). This species is dependent on fire, as it feeds on many disturbance (e.g., fire) promoted plants, such as seed from Yakirra australience (R. Southgate pers. comm.). It is also able to occupy recently burnt areas, as it uses burrows for refuge (R. Southgate pers. comm.).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The current Bilby distribution is associated with a low abundance or absence of foxes, rabbits, and livestock. Major threats relate to predation from foxes, habitat destruction from introduced herbivores, and changed fire regimes (Pavey 2006). Predation pressures from feral cats and dingoes occurring in association with pastoral practices may be a threat to the Bilby. Feral cats have affected the success of reintroduced populations. Additional threats to the Bilby include mining and other development, and road mortality (Pavey 2006).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The Bilby is listed as a threatened species under Australian law. It occurs in a number of protected areas. A national recovery plan was completed for the species, and the conservation measures which follow are adapted, and/or taken directly, from it (Pavey 2006). It is listed on CITES Appendix I.

The recovery plan stresses the need to survey for the species to achieve an accurate extent of occurrence and area of occupancy. Methods need to be developed to improve the monitoring of distribution and abundance in order to compile trends. There should also be a monitoring program for exotic Bilby predators, and control measures of these species should be intensified, especially at priority sites. Research into threats such as predators, altered fire regimes, and habitat degradation in various forms is needed to determine their relative importance.

Management of captive populations and reintroductions into predator-free or predator-controlled sites should continue. Captive programs need to maintain the current levels of genetic diversity. Further research into husbandry should proceed. Finally, the Bibly recovery team needs to continue its efforts to improve recovery management and promote awareness of Bilby recovery among stakeholders and the public.

Citation: Friend, T., Morris, K. & van Weenen, J. 2008. Macrotis lagotis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 24 November 2014.
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