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Quokkas in the northern jarrah forest: Recovery of populations over a decade

Dundas, S.J., Adams, P.J. and Fleming, P.A. (2012) Quokkas in the northern jarrah forest: Recovery of populations over a decade. In: 58th Scientific Meeting Australian Mammal Society, 23 - 26 September, Port Augusta, South Australia.

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The quokka is a medium sized macropod endemic to southwest WA and two islands: Rottnest and Bald. Quokkas were once ‘commonly observed’ in swamps, although few surveys were conducted to establish historical presence. Quokkas suffered a major decline in the 1930s; by the 1950s, the quokka was thought to be extinct on the mainland. Fox predation was highlighted as an ongoing threat and fox baiting began in the mid-1990s targeting protection of this species (and other native fauna). Post-fox control monitoring at eight sites in the northern jarrah forest (1998-2000; Hayward and colleagues) identified small, fragmented populations, but no detectable response to fox baiting. The aim of our research was to establish the current status of quokka populations at these sites (7 of the 8 sites were suitable). Seasonal trapping during 2010-2011 indicated that these populations have increased over the last decade: trap success of the present study (9.4 new individuals/100 trap nights; 85 individuals over 900 trap nights) was substantially higher than previously (0.3 new individuals/100 trap nights; 71 individuals over 21,287 trap nights). Viable quokka populations were found in six of the seven sites surveyed, including two where quokkas had been pronounced ‘locally extinct’. Unlike a number of other native mammal species, and contrary to predictions of further decline, northern jarrah forest quokka populations have increased over the past decade. The quokka may be one ‘good news story’ for native species recovery in WA.

Publication Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
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