Scaly-tailed Possum

The Scaly-tailed Possum (Wyulda squamicaudata) has a limited range in the north west Kimberley, Western Australia. They live in savannah woodland in “massive boulder country of dissected sandstone.” [1] These nocturnal marsupials shelter among rocks during the day and emerge at night to feed in trees. [2]

In the Kimberley, cattle, introduced weeds and predators, and changed fire regimes have affected many native plants and animals. [3] The Scaly-tailed Possum is endemic to the north west Kimberley, including the Mitchell Plateau, where these threats are less pronounced. [4] There are hundreds of islands off the Kimberley Coast and their remoteness and inaccessibility makes biological surveys expensive and “knowledge of the region’s biodiversity is limited.” [4]

From 2007-2009, during both the wet and dry seasons, biological surveys were undertaken on a number of the Kimberley islands. [4] Twenty four islands were selected for the surveys [1] and many had no introduced animals or plants. Other islands were mined in the past (Koolan Island) or mining is planned. [5] Sunday Island had an Aboriginal mission and 23 species of introduced weeds were found there, including the very invasive Stinking Passion Flower (Passiflora foetida). Koolan Island, where iron ore has been mined since the 1960s, is one of the largest at 2580ha and 43 weed species were found. [5] This is what happens when people frequent pristine environments.

Scaly-tailed possums were recorded on two islands: Boongaree and Bigge. In the past their range extended to the Central Kimberley and one was sighted near Broome in the 1960s, but their distribution has shrunk to the current range. [1] The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species says there’s not enough data (Data Deficient) on Scaly-tailed Possum populations to rate its level of threat (vulnerable, endangered, etc) [2] but scientists working in the Kimberley believe current populations are stable. [6] Scaly-tailed possums can be hard to find, but are not endangered. [7]

More information from the Marsupial Society of Australia.

References

  1. Gibson & McKenzie (2012) “Biodiversity values on selected Kimberley islands, Australia: Occurrence of non-volant mammals on islands along the Kimberley coast of Western Australia” Records of the Western Australian Museum, supp. 81.
  2. McKnight, M. (2008) Wyulda squamicaudata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. version 2014.3 <www.iucnredlist.org> downloaded on 03 May 2015.
  3. Radford & White (2008) “Fire in the Kimberley” Landscope vol.23, no.3, p.22-28.
  4. Gibson, Lesley et al (2008) “Treasures of a Sunken Coastline: A Biological Survey of the Kimberley Islands” Landscope vol.23, no.4, p.38-44.
  5. Lyons, Mike (2009) “Biological Survey of the Kimberley Islands” Presentation at Northern Suburbs Branch of the Wildflower Society of WA, September 2009.
  6. Gibson, Lesley (personal communication) 26 May 2011.
  7. Cook, Henry (personal communication) 3 May 2015.

=^.^=

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  1. Pingback: Wunambal Dreaming | of ceiling wax and other things

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