Distribution, habitat and conservation status of the Eastern Pygmy-possum Cercartetus nanus in Queensland

Harris, J. M.; Gynther, I. C.; Eyre, T. J.; Goldingay, R. L.; Mathieson, M. T.
December 2007
Australian Zoologist;Dec2007, Vol. 34 Issue 2, p209
Academic Journal
Reliable modern records of the Eastern Pygmy-possum Cercartetus nanus in Queensland were collated from various sources (including databases and previous reports) and a map of potential C. nanus habitat was generated based on an analysis of regional ecosystems and expert decision rules. Modern records of C. nanus (collected between 1936 and 2002) are confined to the far south-east of the State, from or adjacent to Lamington and Mt. Barney National Parks. Only 13 modern records exist and all but one are from or above 750 m elevation. Attention is also drawn to the existence of Late Pleistocene fossil records of C. nanus from Russenden Cave, Viator Hill, in south-east Queensland, which may suggest that a long- term range contraction has occurred. Currently the status of C. nanus is officially 'least concern' under the Queensland Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 1994. A reappraisal of the species' conservation status in this State was undertaken using the available evidence and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) criteria. We found that C. nanus has a highly restricted distribution in Queensland and is probably subject to threatening processes. Its apparent preference for high elevation sites also suggests that it may be adversely affected by future climate change. Hence, we recommend that the species be nominated for listing as 'endangered' in Queensland. Targeted field studies are needed to more fully document the distribution and abundance of C. nanus in this extreme northern part of its range.


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