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The extinction of rat-kangaroos (Marsupialia:Potoroidae) in New South Wales, Australia

Short, J. (1998) The extinction of rat-kangaroos (Marsupialia:Potoroidae) in New South Wales, Australia. Biological Conservation, 86 (3). pp. 365-377.

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Three of five species of rat-kangaroo have declined to extinction within New South Wales since European settlement, and a fourth now occupies less than 2% of the state. This paper provides new evidence on the timing of those extinctions and details the spatial pattern of collapse of their populations. Data come from detailed records of bounty payments paid in districts throughout much of New South Wales for their control as pests of agriculture Nearly 3 million rat-kangaroos were harvested during the period 1883-1920. Rat-kangaroo populations survived the colonization of New South Wales by the European rabbit in the period 18701900, the build up of sheep numbers to a record 55 million in New South Wales in 1892, and the major changes in Vegetation structure and biomass that would have resulted. They also survived the major drought of 1888. The European red fox invaded New South Wales from the south in the late 1890s and occupied the entire state, apart from the far north-east, by 1915. Rat-kangaroo decline is closely associated with the south-north advance of the fox. In the south and central regions, the decline coincided with the drought of 1902. However, in the north, where foxes were yet to arrive, rat-kangaroo populations recovered strongly from that drought, only to collapse 10 years later as foxes advanced into the region.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Elsevier BV
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