Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

This shy wallaby lives in groups of ten to one hundred individuals (3). They tend to feed at night in open areas on grasses, fruit, leaves and various herbs. They rarely drink, deriving most of the water they need from their diet (3). They also conserve water by taking refuge from the heat of the day in rocky caves (2). They are most active in the early evening when they leave their shelters (3). Individuals typically reach sexual maturity at one to two years of age, after which time breeding can be continuous, but depends on the rainfall. Female black-footed rock wallabies show embryonic diapause, which means that the development of the embryo can cease temporarily until the environmental conditions become suitable for it to complete its development (2). The gestation period lasts about 30 days, and the newly born rock-wallabies, like most young marsupials, are initially very poorly developed and suckle for a time inside the mother's pouch (3). Other wallabies and kangaroos tend to stay with their young continuously until they have weaned, but black-footed rock-wallaby mothers often leave their offspring in a sheltered place while they go to feed. It is thought that this may be a safe option, considering the treacherous rocky terrain in which this species lives (3).
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Description

The colouration of this shy, wary animal helps it to blend in with the background of rocks (3); it has dark to pale greyish-brown upperparts, a paler chest and dark brown belly (2). The dark face is marked with a white or sandy-coloured cheek stripe, and a dark brown to blackish stripe extends from between the ears to just below the shoulders. During summer these wallabies tend to become lighter in colour (2). The thick woolly fur is particularly dense around the base of the tail, the rump and flanks (2). The very long tail, which ends in a dark brush, is useful in maintaining balance when these animals jump from one rock to another (3). Furthermore, the soles of the feet are highly textured to prevent them from slipping (3).
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Biology

This shy wallaby lives in groups of ten to one hundred individuals (3). They tend to feed at night in open areas on grasses, fruit, leaves and various herbs. They rarely drink, deriving most of the water they need from their diet (3). They also conserve water by taking refuge from the heat of the day in rocky caves (2). They are most active in the early evening when they leave their shelters (3). Individuals typically reach sexual maturity at one to two years of age, after which time breeding can be continuous, but depends on the rainfall. Female black-footed rock wallabies show embryonic diapause, which means that the development of the embryo can cease temporarily until the environmental conditions become suitable for it to complete its development (2). The gestation period lasts about 30 days, and the newly born rock-wallabies, like most young marsupials, are initially very poorly developed and suckle for a time inside the mother's pouch (3). Other wallabies and kangaroos tend to stay with their young continuously until they have weaned, but black-footed rock-wallaby mothers often leave their offspring in a sheltered place while they go to feed. It is thought that this may be a safe option, considering the treacherous rocky terrain in which this species lives (3).
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Description

The colouration of this shy, wary animal helps it to blend in with the background of rocks (3); it has dark to pale greyish-brown upperparts, a paler chest and dark brown belly (2). The dark face is marked with a white or sandy-coloured cheek stripe, and a dark brown to blackish stripe extends from between the ears to just below the shoulders. During summer these wallabies tend to become lighter in colour (2). The thick woolly fur is particularly dense around the base of the tail, the rump and flanks (2). The very long tail, which ends in a dark brush, is useful in maintaining balance when these animals jump from one rock to another (3). Furthermore, the soles of the feet are highly textured to prevent them from slipping (3).
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Distribution

Range Description

The Black-footed Rock Wallaby is endemic to Australia, where it occurs in rocky areas in the central, southern, and western portions of the country and includes a number of offshore islands. Many of the populations of this species are isolated from each other, and this separation has given rise to three recognized subspecies (Petrogale lateralis lateralis, P. l. hacketti, P. l. pearsoni) and two races (West Kimberley and MacDonnell Ranges). There have been a number of localized extinctions of this species over the last 100 years, but there are have also been several reintroductions, translocations, and even a couple of accidental introductions of the species as well.
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Geographic Range

Although Petrogale lateralis is often reffered to as the "West Australian Rock Wallaby", its distribution is clearly not confined to this region. P. lateralis populations can be found in northern South Australia, the southern parts of the Northern Territory, as well as Western Australia. (Pearson 1992; Strahan 1995)

Biogeographic Regions: australian (Native )

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Range

There are four known subspecies of black-footed rock-wallaby and two geographic subpopulations (5), all of which differ in terms of their geographic range and fur colour (3). The distribution of the MacDonnell Ranges race, known locally as warru, has declined over most of its range. At present, it is found in the east and western MacDonnell ranges of the Northern Territory, in a few scattered populations in the Warburton area of Western Australia, and just one isolated small colony in north-western South Australia (5). The western Kimberley race is found only in the Edgar Range, Erskine Range, Grant Range and nearby parts of west Kimberley in Western Australia (5). The subspecies P. l. hacketti occurs on three islands (Mondrain, Wilson and Westall) in the Recherche Archipelago off the southern coast of Western Australia (1). P. l. lateralis is currently declining throughout its range. It was formerly found in suitable habitat in central and southern Western Australia, but now exists as just six populations in the Wheatbelt, and at Little Sandy Desert, Cape Range and Barrow and Salisbury Islands (2). P. l. pearsoni is restricted to Pearson Island (South Australia), with 300 individuals on the main island, 200 introduced to Wedge and Thistle Islands and 190 that were introduced accidentally to the south island (1).
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Range

There are four known subspecies of black-footed rock-wallaby and two geographic subpopulations (5), all of which differ in terms of their geographic range and fur colour (3). The distribution of the MacDonnell Ranges race, known locally as warru, has declined over most of its range. At present, it is found in the east and western MacDonnell ranges of the Northern Territory, in a few scattered populations in the Warburton area of Western Australia, and just one isolated small colony in north-western South Australia (5). The western Kimberley race is found only in the Edgar Range, Erskine Range, Grant Range and nearby parts of west Kimberley in Western Australia (5). The subspecies P. l. hacketti occurs on three islands (Mondrain, Wilson and Westall) in the Recherche Archipelago off the southern coast of Western Australia (1). P. l. lateralis is currently declining throughout its range. It was formerly found in suitable habitat in central and southern Western Australia, but now exists as just six populations in the Wheatbelt, and at Little Sandy Desert, Cape Range and Barrow and Salisbury Islands (2). P. l. pearsoni is restricted to Pearson Island (South Australia), with 300 individuals on the main island, 200 introduced to Wedge and Thistle Islands and 190 that were introduced accidentally to the south island (1).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Like all rock wallabies,P lateralis has thick and padded hind feet with granulated soles that provide traction on rocky terrain. Also, unlike other macropods, in the rock wallaby the claw of the fourth toe extends barely (if at all) past the large toe pad. Petrogale lateralis has a thick and soft grey-brown coat. Its face is dark and grey with a light stripe on the cheek. The various sub-species of P. lateralis differ in body markings and size. In most sub-species, females are70-85% the weight of males the same age. (Strahan 1995; Jones 1923; Taylor 1984)

Range mass: 3.1 to 7 kg.

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species is found in a variety of steep and rocky habitats. The vegetation in these areas varies widely from temperate rocky islands to pandanus lined gorges and spinifex covered hills in the central deserts (Eldridge and Pearson 2008). The diet of this species includes grass and some fruit, and it can survive without water for long periods, as its need is reduced by sheltering in caves during the day where relative humidity is higher (Langford and Pavey 2002). The species is long lived, with the average age of breeding females about 6 years (females mature at 1 year; animals live about 12 years).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Members of this species, like other rock wallabies, live on rock piles, cliffs, and rocky hills. Their highly specialized feet allow them to move swiftly and safely on steep rocky terrain. They camp near caves or cliffs where they can take shelter, and they are often found in very arid areas where water is scarce. (Strahan 1995; Pearson 1992; Taylor 1995)

Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; savanna or grassland

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Found amidst rock piles, steep cliffs, boulder scree slopes and granite outcrops, typically where there is some cover in the form of open vegetation (4).
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Found amidst rock piles, steep cliffs, boulder scree slopes and granite outcrops, typically where there is some cover in the form of open vegetation (4).
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Petrogale lateralis feeds mainly on grass and herbs. The large forestomach of macropods is well suited for the microbial fermentation of cellulose. Petrogale lateralis does not need to drink much water to survive and sometimes lives in areas where no permanent water source is available. These wallabies seek shelter in caves during the hottest hours of the days to minimize their loss of water. They are most active during early evening when they leave their shelter to feed on plants. (Strahan 1995; Taylor 1984)

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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Observations: Little is known about the longevity of these animals. They have been reported to live up to 12 years (Fisher et al. 2001), which is plausible but unverified. One captive specimen lived 9.3 years (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Reproduction

Very little information is available for P. lateralis; the following account is based primarily on other wallaby species. All rock-wallaby species breed continually. The gestation period and oestrus cycle of Petrogalespecies, are both about 30 days. As with other marsupials, the new born rock wallabies are very undeveloped and suckle inside their mother's pouch. Unlike other kangaroos and wallabies, young rock wallabies that have left the pouch but are not yet weaned are often left in a sheltered area while their mother goes off to feed. This may be because of the treacherous terrain in which the rock wallabies live.

(Strahan 1995; Taylor 1984)

Average number of offspring: 1.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Petrogale lateralis

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


No available public DNA sequences.

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Petrogale lateralis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
NT
Near Threatened

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Burbidge, A., Woinarski, J., Reed, J., van Weenen, J., Moseby, K.E. & Morris, K.

Reviewer/s
Lamoreux, J. & Hilton-Taylor, C. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Near Threatened because, although it has a large extent of occurrence, its distribution is very patchy, few (if any) populations are considered secure, the total population is not much greater than 10,000 mature individuals, and it is probably decreasing overall, thus making the species close to qualifying for Vulnerable under criterion C.

History
  • 1994
    Vulnerable
    (Groombridge 1994)
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The number and size of P. lateralis populations has never been accurately determined, but it is now believed that their distribution is diminishing. Reports written by past explorers and Aboriginals have suggested that large groups of P. lateralis once existed in several regions where none are currently observed. There has been some speculation that their decline has been caused by competition from other herbivores, changes in fire patterns since aboriginals have left certain areas, or increased predation by introduced predators such as the fox. (Pearson 1992; Strahan 1995)

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened

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Status

All taxa of black-footed rock-wallaby are classified as Lower Risk / Least Concern (LR/lc) by the IUCN Red List 2007. Subspecies: Petrogale lateralis lateralis,P. l. hacketti and P. l. pearsoni are classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 and subpopulations MacDonnell Ranges subpopulation and Western Kimberly subpopulation are also classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).
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Status

All taxa of black-footed rock-wallaby are classified as Lower Risk / Least Concern (LR/lc) by the IUCN Red List 2007. Subspecies: Petrogale lateralis lateralis,P. l. hacketti and P. l. pearsoni are classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 and subpopulations MacDonnell Ranges subpopulation and Western Kimberly subpopulation are also classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).
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Population

Population
The global population is probably over 10,000 mature individuals. Historically, the MacDonnell race of Black-footed Rock Wallaby began a steep decline in the 1930s, and this decline continues today, mainly in the smaller, isolated populations (Eldridge and Pearson 2008). Populations in 21 of 400 sites have disappeared in last 30 years (Gibson 2000), and there are fewer than 100 individuals in South Australia (10 in the north-western population and about 70 in the population further east). The MacDonnell Ranges race, however, remains widespread and common in the Northern Territory, due to a variety of factors, including: widespread, contiguous and variable habitat; an absence of rabbits and foxes, as they are found farther south; an inability of goats to persist; and 1080 baiting programs for dingoes. Likewise the West Kimberley race is described as “conspicuously abundant at several sites” because it is at the northern edge of fox distribution and does not suffer much predation (Eldridge and Pearson 2008).

The remaining subspecies of Black-footed Rock Wallaby have not fared so well or are very limited in distribution. The Black-footed Rock Wallaby in south-western Western Australia have declined massively during the 20th century, and many local populations have gone extinct (Pearson and Kinnear 1997; Eldridge and Pearson 2008). Barrow Island may hold about 100 individuals, though recent work suggests this population is much smaller (A. Burbidge pers. comm.). Both P. l. hacketti and P. l. pearsoni are common within their tiny ranges. Estimates for P. l. pearsoni include approximately 500 individuals on Thistle Island and 200 on Wedge Island (both are introduced populations).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
The various subspecies of Black-footed Rock Wallaby face different threats. The main threat overall to this species is predation from introduced foxes, and foxes are known to have played a major role in the decline of the species historically. Competition with domestic and introduced herbivores (primarily sheep and rabbits) is a major threat as well as loss of habitat due to changes in the fire regime and introduced grasses.
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A major cause of the decline of these wallabies has been predation by introduced foxes, which is thought to be responsible for the extinction of several populations. Predation by feral cats, alteration of fire regimes and habitat damage caused by grazing sheep, goats and rabbits are also thought to have been problems (2) (4).
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A major cause of the decline of these wallabies has been predation by introduced foxes, which is thought to be responsible for the extinction of several populations. Predation by feral cats, alteration of fire regimes and habitat damage caused by grazing sheep, goats and rabbits are also thought to have been problems (2) (4).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
All three subspecies and both races of Black-footed Rock Wallaby are listed as threatened under Australian law. The species occurs in a number of protected areas. The separate subspecies and races are managed separately. Some of the island populations should be sampled genetically – not all have been sampled and there is evidence of inbreeding with some locations. Regular monitoring of populations should be conducted in a coordinated fashion. Predator control measures (primarily fox baiting) need to be maintained and expanded within key areas for the species, as well as monitoring of fox populations. Fire management and habitat restoration should be implemented where feasible.

A number of reintroductions of have been carried out to date and management of the relevant threatening processes described above is particularly important when establishing new populations (Davies et al. 2007). P. l. pearsoni was endemic to North Pearson Island, but in 1960 it was accidentally introduced to South and Middle Pearson, where populations are now established (Eldridge and Pearson 2008). In 1974 this subspecies was translocated to Thistle Island and in 1975 to Wedge Island (Eldridge and Pearson 2008). P. l. lateralis has been reintroduced to Avon Valley National Park (2001), Paruna Sanctuary (2001), Walyunga National Park (2002), and Cape Le Grand National Park (2003) (Davies et al. 2007). Further reintroductions/ translocations are planned and these should proceed along with the maintenance of genetic variation within captive-breeding populations.
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Conservation

Various populations of black-footed rock-wallaby occur within protected sites. A recovery plan is currently underway, and much of the suitable habitat within reserves has been protected. Furthermore, fox control measures have been established at several sites (4).
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Conservation

Various populations of black-footed rock-wallaby occur within protected sites. A recovery plan is currently underway, and much of the suitable habitat within reserves has been protected. Furthermore, fox control measures have been established at several sites (4).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

This species lives primarily in remote areas and has little effect on the lives of most people in Australia. They were used as a food source by early explorers and Aboriginals, but today P. lateralis are not widely hunted. (Pearson 1992)

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Wikipedia

Black-flanked rock-wallaby

The black-flanked rock-wallaby (Petrogale lateralis), also known as the black-footed rock-wallaby or warru, is a kind of wallaby, one of several rock-wallabies in the genus Petrogale.

Contents

Description

The black-flanked rock-wallaby is a rather wary animal, with black and grey colouration to blend in with its rocky surroundings, later to lighten in colour during summer. It has short, thick, woolly fur that is particularly dense around the base of the tail, rump and flanks. Its long, brushy tail is quite useful for retaining balance as they hop from one rock to another, and the soles of its feet are highly textured to prevent slipping.

This wallaby lives in groups of 10–100 individuals. It usually feeds at night in open areas such as grasses, where it can also find fruit, leaves and a variety of herbs. Because most of its water comes from its diet, it rarely drinks and can conserve water by taking refuge from the heat in rocky caves. It is most active when it leaves its shelter at early-evening. Individuals reach sexual maturity at 1–2 years of age, after which time breeding is continuous, depending on rainfall. Females show embryonic diapause; the development of the embryo can cease temporarily until environmental conditions become more suitable for its development to complete. The gestation period lasts around 30 days, and like other young marsupials, the young are poorly developed and suckle inside the mother's pouch until they are ready to leave. Unlike other kangaroos and wallabies, mothers leave their young in a sheltered place while they feed.

Predation by introduced foxes and feral cats, habitat damage caused by sheep, goats and rabbits and alteration of fire regimes have caused the population to decline. Several sites where populations occur are protected, and a recovery plan is underway. Fox control has been established at several sites.

Classification

The species was first described by John Gould in 1842. There are at least two subspecies besides the nominate subspecies:[1]

A description published as Petrogale lateralis purpureicollis (purple-necked rock-wallaby) by Le Souef in 1924 is given in some listings,[3] but this is now regarded as a distinct species.[1] The specimens obtained at the MacDonnell Ranges, and from the Western Kimberley, are also distinct enough to be separate subspecies of the black-flanked rock-wallaby. These populations, and the recognised subspecies, are distinguished by chromosomal as well as morphological distinctions.[4]

Endangered status

Illustration from Gould's Mammals of Australia, 1863[5]

The Australian Commonwealth Government's Department of Environment and Water Resources lists the black-flanked rock-wallaby as having 'Vulnerable' status and cites various habitats in Western Australia.[6] The subspecies found at the Recherche Archipelago was assessed as a vulnerable species in 2006.[7]

In South Australia, the Adelaide Advertiser reported on Monday October 1, 2007 that:

The race is on to save the black-flanked rock-wallaby from extinction and captive breeding programs at Monarto Zoo and Adelaide Zoo are showing early promise.

The State Government claims there are just 50 animals left in the wild in South Australia [8] and the Advertiser article described the process of moving 15 wallabies to captivity in South Australia, with known native locations to be at Pukatja / Ernabella in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara or 'APY' Lands and also at New Well, some 300 km east of Adelaide.[9]

References

  1. ^ a b c Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 68. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3.
  2. ^ Burbidge, A., Woinarski, J., Reed, J., van Weenen, J., Moseby, C. & Morris, K. (2008). Petrogale lateralis. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 29 December 2008. Database entry includes justification for why this species is listed as near threatened
  3. ^ Vulnerable animals list at www.epa.qld.gov
  4. ^ Elbridge, M. D. B., & Close, R. L. (1995). Strahan, R. ed. Mammals of Australia. Reed Books. pp. 377-381. ISBN 1-56098-673-5.
  5. ^ Mammals of Australia, Vol. II Plate 42, London, 1863
  6. ^ Dept Environment & Water Resources Website Retrieved on October 2, 2007
  7. ^ Australasian Marsupial & Monotreme Specialist Group (1996). Petrogale lateralis ssp. hacketti. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 2008-03-22.
  8. ^ SA Government Ministers Press Releases Minister Gago, May 17, 2007 Retrieved on October 2, 2007
  9. ^ Adelaide Advertiser, Monday, October 1, 2007, page 16
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