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Range DescriptionThis species is endemic to the Channel Country Biogeographic Region (BGR) spanning north-east South Australia and south-west Queensland, Australia. Habitat of extant populations is dominated by open, smooth stony and clay plains with smaller areas of overlying sand, usually vegetated with ephemeral grasses, forbs, and herbs, though some taller perennial vegetation may be sparsely present. The species' range is currently restricted to 25% of the Channel Country BGR. There are also historic records from other parts of central Australia (Stony Plains BGR, Central Ranges BGR, MacDonnell Ranges BGR, and the Nullarbor BGR). Outlying populations in the Nullarbor and MacDonnell Ranges BGRs appear to have occurred prior to the 1950s. The species has not been recorded in the Stony Plains BGR since 1970, despite a period of intensive survey work here. There is some doubt about the reliability of outlying records. Finlayson (1961) questioned these and suggested the distribution was confined to what can be considered the Stony Plains and Channel Country BGRs. However, the species has been identified from a number of sub-fossil regurgitated owl pellet material collected from caves on the Nullarbor BGR, and the Flinders Ranges at the south-eastern edge of the Stony Plains BGR (Watts and Aslin 1981).
It is not clear if range contraction is continuing as many records in Queensland are from one-off surveys, and a recent Queensland assessment for prioritization for conservation action considered this species of “Least Concern” because it was not known to be in decline (EPA Queensland 2005; 'Back on Track Species Prioritisation Framework'). In South Australia the population appears to be restricted to the north-east corner of the state, where populations that have been repeatedly visited since 1992 appear to be relatively stable. Areas of what would now be considered ideal Notomys cervinus habitat in the Stony Plains BGR are much smaller/fewer and more fragmented compared to the Channel Country. It is likely therefore that the species had a much smaller area of occupancy making it more prone to localized extinction during past periods of environmental stress, eventually leading to total extinction from the western side of Lake Eyre. If only the northern half of the Stony Plains BGR is considered as the species’ past range then the extent of occurrence would have declined by approximately 75% and the potential area of occupancy by a further 20%. The overall decline of the species from its pre-European area of occupancy is probably over 50% since the 1950s.