Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Vulnerable
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, this species had a recovery plan in force at the time the legislation provided for the Minister to decide whether or not to have a recovery plan (19/2/2007).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans Chuditch (Dasyurus geoffroii) Recovery Plan 2012 (Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation (WA DEC), 2012a) [Recovery Plan].
 
Other EPBC Act Plans Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by the European Red Fox (Environment Australia (EA), 1999a) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by Feral Cats (Environment Australia (EA), 1999b) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Threat Abatement Plan for Competition and Land Degradation by Feral Rabbits (Environment Australia (EA), 1999c) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Policy Statements and Guidelines Survey guidelines for Australia's threatened mammals. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.5 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011j) [Admin Guideline].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
NT:Threatened Species of the Northern Territory - Western Quoll, Chuditch Dasyurus geoffroii (Pavey, C., 2006g) [Information Sheet].
WA:Fauna Species Profiles - Chuditch Dasyurus geoffroii (Gould, 1841) (Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation (WA DEC), 2010f) [Information Sheet].
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Extinct (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013)
NT: Listed as Extinct (Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 2000 (Northern Territory): 2012)
SA: Listed as Endangered (National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (South Australia): June 2011)
WA: Listed as Vulnerable (Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (Western Australia): September 2013)
Non-statutory Listing Status
VIC: Listed as Regionally Extinct (Advisory List of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna in Victoria: 2013)
Scientific name Dasyurus geoffroii [330]
Family Dasyuridae:Polyprotodonta:Mammalia:Chordata:Animalia
Species author Gould,1841
Infraspecies author  
Reference  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images
http://www.margaret-river-online.com.au/mammals/chuditch.htm

Scientific name: Dasyurus geoffroii

Common name: Chuditch

Other common names: Western Quoll

Synonym: Dasyurinus geoffroii



There are four Dasyurus species that occur in Australia. Chuditch is now restricted to south-west Western Australia; Tiger Quoll (D. maculatus) occurs in eastern Australia; Eastern Quoll (D. viverrinus) occurs in Tasmania; and D. hallucatus occurs in northern Australia. Apart from distributional differences, the various species of Dasyurus can be distinguished by the presence or absence of the following characteristics: spots on the tail; four or five toes on hind feet; and ridges or granulous foot pads. Chuditch has no spots on the tail, usually five toes on the hind feet and granular foot pads (Ride 1970). Genetically, the Chuditch is most closely related to Dasyurus spartacus which is one of two Dasyurus species that occurs in New Guinea (Firestone 1999).

Two subspecies have been suggested: Dasyurus geoffroii geoffroii from inland Australia and D. g. fortis from south-west Western Australia. The validity of this taxonomy has been questioned genetically (Firestone 1999) and morphometrically (Serena et al. 1991). No subspecies are currently recognised by the Western Australian Museum; the validity of subspecies is difficult to resolve due to the lack of eastern Australian specimens.

The Chuditch is Western Australia's largest endemic carnivore: at maturity it is the size of a small domestic cat. It is reddish-brown to grey in colour with distinctive white spots and a long tail with a black brush on the distal half (Van Dyck & Strahan 2008). Females are smaller than males, weighing 900 g on average compared to 1300 g for males (Orell & Morris 1994).

Chuditch formerly occupied nearly 70% of the Australian mainland, occurring in every State and Territory. However, it is thought that Chuditch have always been uncommon outside of south-west Western Australia (Ride 1970). The last specimens were collected in NSW in 1841, Victoria in 1857, Queensland between 1884 and 1907, and in South Australia in 1931 (Orell & Morris 1994). The species disappeared from central Australia around the 1940s–1950s (Burbidge et al. 1988). In Western Australia it was recorded as breeding in Kings Park and the roofs of suburban houses by Troughton (1973) but had disappeared from the Swan Coastal Plain by the 1930s, according to Orell and Morris (1994).

The Chuditch is now known only from Western Australia where it predominantly occurs in Jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) forest. At the time that a recovery plan was prepared in 1994 (Orell & Morris 1994), the Chuditch was considered to occur in just 5% of its original range. Occasional records are obtained from the wheatbelt and goldfields where it persists in very low numbers. The species has been translocated to Lane Poole Conservation Park, Julimar Forest, Lake Magenta Nature Reserve (NR), Cape Arid National Park (NP), Mount Lindsay NP and Kalbarri NP. There is recent evidence of a return of the species to Walyunga NP, outer metropolitan areas of Perth (e.g. Kalamunda Road, Gooseberry Hill) and the Swan Coastal Plain (e.g. Upper Swan, Yalgorup NP) (WA DEC 2007a).

Precision in defining locations in which Chuditch occurs is difficult for this taxon. The species can travel large distances (for example, a male Chuditch was captured in Salmon Gums, 180 km from where it had been translocated to in Cape Arid NP (Anonymous 1998)), has large home ranges and is sparsely populated through a large portion of its range. The species is present in varying densities throughout Jarrah forest, Kalbarri NP and is sparsely populated in the wheatbelt and goldfields areas.

Habitat fragementation is also an issue when determining this species range. The majority of Chuditch are recorded from the contiguous forest of south-west Western Australia. Occasional records for this species are obtained from the wheatbelt and goldfields regions where only fragments of suitable habitat remain (WA DEC 2007a).

Area of occurrence
The extent of occurrence of Chuditch was estimated to be 215 400 km² in 2001 and 211 800 km² in 2006. These estimates were measured by constructing a minimum convex polygon around records in south-west Western Australia plus the area of Kalbarri NP. The records were obtained from the WA Translocations Database, which contains information on the movement of animals for conservation purposes, and the WA Threatened and Priority Fauna Database, which contains records from a variety of sources that includes sighting records, roadkills and museum specimens (WA DEC 2007a). Records between 1992 and 2001 were used for the 2001 estimate and records between 1997 and 2006 were used the 2006 estimate.



Area of occupancy
In 2006, the area of occupancy of Chuditch was estimated to be between 13 800 km² and 45 625 km², using 10 and 25 km² grids to estimate the area of occupancy, respectively. Post-1997 records held in the Threatened and Priority Fauna Database and Translocations Database were analysed by GIS to obtain this estimate (WA DEC 2007a). Occupancy estimation is scale-dependent and difficult to be precise. Consideration is given to the home range of Chuditch when deciding on grid square size, however, this varies considerably between the sexes and across the distribution of the species.

Chuditch are also known to travel considerable distances so it is possible that localised sightings may not be fragmented. Separate estimates were obtained for the forests of south-west Western Australia and outside of this area (i.e. wheatfbelt/goldfields), because this separation was used in estimating population size. The forest areas represent continuous habitat, whereas the wheatbelt/goldfields contain discontinuous habitat. Conservation status for this species in these two areas is likely to differ over time and separate estimates allow for this comparison.

Captive populations and translocations
Chuditch have been successfully bred in captivity at Perth Zoo. Between 1990 and 2000, Perth Zoo maintained approximately 15 pairs of Chuditch per annum and provided 330 animals for release at translocation sites selected by the species' recovery team (WA DEC 2007a). Perth Zoo no longer maintains an active breeding colony.

Apart from zoos and private collections, other translocated populations have been established in parts of the species former range. The following table presents a summary of translocation success (WA DEC 2007a):

Release site Release years Source site Number released Outcome
Lane-Poole NR 1987 Dwellingup 9 Failed
Julimar State Forest 1992-1995 Perth Zoo 62 Successful
Lake Magenta NR 1996-1998 Perth Zoo 81 Successful
Cape Arid NP 1998-2000 Perth Zoo 61 Probably unsuccessful
Mt Lindsay NP 1999-2000 Perth Zoo 63 Indeterminate
Kalbarri NP 2000-2001 Perth Zoo 49 Probably successful

No further translocations of Chuditch are currently planned. Site-based fauna reconstruction projects such as those being implemented for Dirk Hartog Island, the former Lorna Glen pastoral station (north-east of Wiluna) and Francois Peron NP have plans to reintroduce Chuditch after other species are translocated (Hancock et al. 1999).

Chuditch are regularly trapped throughout the Jarrah forest in Western Australia. Of the 40 fauna monitoring sites maintained under the Western Shield Fauna Recovery Program, which commenced in 1996 (Orell 2004), only 23 have recorded Chuditch. Eighteen transects set up for other research purposes have also provided additional information on Chuditch.

Outside the south-west forest, Chuditch are rarely trapped and most records are from roadkill. Selected biological surveys which use techniques that could have detected Chuditch are shown below. Chuditch are known to be sparsely distributed over large areas and a considerable amount of effort is required at these locations to confirm the presence/persistence of the species. The following table presents surveys conducted to determine the presence or absence of Chuditch (WA DEC 2007a):


Site Area (ha) Date Trap nights Number of chuditch trapped Comments
Billyacatting NR 2063
Nov 1972 101 0  
  - Apr 1974 94 0  
  - Sep 2005 640 0  
Lake Magenta NR 110 000 Sep 1990
Apr 1994
Jul 1994
Apr 1995
800
1050
1400
2289
1
0
1
0
 
Frank Hann NP 50 000 Jun 1990
Sep 1994
800
1800
1
0
Roadkills from the NP 1980s–1990s.
Fitzgerald River NP 342 000 1984–1987
1988
330
500
0
0
 
North Karlgarin NR 5168 Apr 1994
Jul 1994
Oct 1994
250
250
200
0
0
0
 
Reserve 31111 3000 Jul 1994 520 0  
Dongolocking NR 1400 1994 1000 0  
Boolenalling NR 700 1994 482 0  
Dunn Rock NR 27 349 Apr 1995
Nov 2006
1741
440
0
1
 
Ravensthorpe Range Vacant Crown Land - 1982–1987 420 0 Sightings and roadkill in area.
Yellowdine area - Apr 1995 3500 0  
Dragon Rocks NR 32 218 Apr 1995 1888 0  
Cape Arid NP 278 185 Nov 1997 400 0  
Dryandra 6793 Dec 1998 680 0 Sightings in area.
Lake Johnston - Oct 2003 150 0
Unallocated Crown Land near Mukinbuddin - Dec 2004 440 0 Roadkill Chuditch.
Chiddarcooping NR 5262 Dec 2004 100 0  
Elachbutting (23339) reserve 466 Dec 2004 100 0  
Jouerdine NR 1117 Dec 2004 80 0  
Burapin Rock - Dec 2004 60 0  
Walyahmoning NR 20 925 Dec 2004 400 0  

It is difficult to estimate the population size of Chuditch due to its wide home range, low densities and localised habitat fragmentation. Population estimates vary significantly, depending on methodology employed. The following table presents Chuditch population size estimates from a variety of sources:

Year Site Estimated number of mature individuals Reference
1991 Australia <6000 Serena et al. (1991)
1991 Jarrah Forest 2500–4400 Serena et al. (1991)
2001 Jarrah Forest 1212–2121 (Using area of occupancy calculated using 10km² grid)

3900–6825 (Using area of occupancy calculated using 25km² grid)
WA DEC (2007a)
2001 Wheatbelt/Goldfields 616 (Using area of occupancy calculated using 10km² grid)

549 (Using area of occupancy calculated using 25km² grid)
WA DEC (2007a)
2006 Jarrah Forest 1368–2394 (Using area of occupancy calculated using 10km² grid)

4125–7219 (Using area of occupancy calculated using 25km² grid)
WA DEC (2007a)
2006 Wheatbelt/Goldfields 601 (Using area of occupancy calculated using 10km² grid)

532 (Using area of occupancy calculated using 25km² grid)
WA DEC (2007a)

The 1991 population estimate used the average density of Chuditch determined from intensive trapping studies at Boyicup and Yendicup forest blocks (Serena et al. 1991). This estimate assumes that Chuditch density throughout the Jarrah forest State Forest area and privately-owned forest (19 500 km²) is equivalent to 40–70% of the average density of the unusually high quality population occupying the Perup NR. The Perup density estimate was calculated on the results of trapping surveys undertaken in Boyicup and Yendicup blocks in the period 1974–1988, excluding years in which no animals were caught in a given area (i.e. years in which Chuditch were unusually or atypically low) (WA DEC 2007a).

The 2001 and 2006 population size estimates for the south-west forests was calculated using 40–70% of the density of Chuditch per km² used by Serena and colleagues (1991) (i.e. ~0.32 Chuditch/km²) and applying it to the area of occupancy of Chuditch in the south-west forest calculated from records in the Western Australia Threatened and Priority Fauna Database and Translocations Database using 10 and 25 km² grid squares (WA DEC 2007a).

It was conservatively assumed that Chuditch outside the Jarrah forest area occur at 1% of the density recorded by Serena and colleagues (1991). This was then applied to the total extent of occurrence of Chuditch, minus the area of occupancy in the Jarrah forest (calculated using a 10 and 25 km² grid), and used to estimate the population size outside the Jarrah forests for both 2001 and 2006 (WA DEC 2007a).


Population trends
Changes in trap success are used to observe trends in population size both within and between populations. Trap success figures for Chuditch are available from fauna monitoring sites established through the Western Shield program. Trap success is typically low for Chuditch because it is sparsely distributed species and is seasonally absent. Highest trap success rates for Chuditch are usually observed in June or July (Serena & Soderquist 1988).

Trap saturation can also reduce trap success for Chuditch. This is particularly apparent at sites where species such as Brushtail Possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) and Woylies (Brush-tailed Bettongs, Bettongia penicillata) reached trap success rates in excess of 50% (e.g. Chariup, Batalling). For these reasons, trends in abundance of Chuditch are difficult to separate from variability inherent in the monitoring techniques. In an attempt to reduce some of this variability, trap success was averaged for three-year periods for sites with at least nine years of monitoring data, but it must be emphasised that this is an imprecise assessment (Morris et al. 2003).

There is no strong evidence to indicate whether the chuditch population is increasing, declining or stable. The following table presents a summary of trap success for Chuditch at sites that have been monitored for at least nine years (WA DEC 2007a):

Monitoring site 1998–2000 average trap success 2001–2003 average trap success 2004–2006 average trap success Trend
Batalling 2.3 1.2 0.7 Decreasing
Gervasse 1.9 0.5 0 Decreasing?
St John 0.03 0.5 0.2 No change
Tone 1.0 1.7 0.3 No change
Moopinup 2.8 0.7 1.0 No change
Chariup 1.1 0.2 0 Decreasing?
Boyicup 0 0 0.1 No change
Myalgelup 0.4 1.4 0.7 No change
Denmark (Mt Lindsay) 1.6 0.3 0 Decreasing?
Camballan 0 1.5 6.6 Increasing
Catterick 0.4 2.5 5.5 Increasing
Noggerup 1.8 6.7 7.2 Increasing
Milyeannup 0.1 0 0 No change
Lake Magenta NR 2.2 0.4 0.5 No change
Moir Track (Fitzgerald River NP) 0.1 0.1 0 No change
Julimar 7.1 3.5 1.9 Decreasing
AVERAGE: 1.4 1.3 1.5 No change

Generation length has not been calculated, however, it is assumed to be less than the average lifespan for the species (two to three years).

No specific populations have been assessed as particularly important for the long term survival and recovery of Chuditch. However, the south-west forests of Western Australia are the most important habitat for this species. Successful translocations include occurrences at Lake Magenta NR, Julimar forest and Kalbarri NP and these have expanded the extent of occurrence of Chuditch (WA DEC 2007a). These occurrences provide greater security for the long-term viability of the Chuditch because threats are unlikely to have the same impact on each occurrence.

Chuditch are well represented on conservation estates. They occupy the contiguous State Forest of south-west Western Australia including several National Parks and Nature Reserves. The largest populations of Chuditch occur in conservation estates monitored under the Western Shield program (WA DEC 2007a). Chuditch are also recorded on other tenure, including road reserves and private property.

In a survey of Paganoni Swamp Rerserve in Karnup, the University of Western Australia trapped a Chuditch before microchipping, tagging and releasing the animal unharmed. The last sighting of the Chuditch from the Swan Coastal Plains was 20 years earlier (UWA 2010).

Chuditch previously occupied habitat in a variety of climatic zones across Australia. Chuditch are now restricted to the south-west of Western Australia.

The former range of Chuditch suggests that the species utilised a wide variety of habitats including dry schlerophyll forests, beaches and deserts (Burbidge et al. 1988; Shortridge 1909). Chuditch currently inhabit most kinds of wooded habitat within its current range including eucalypt forest (especially Jarrah, Eucalyptus marginata), dry woodland and mallee shrublands (Serena & Soderquist 1995). In Jarrah forest, Chuditch populations occur in both moist, densely vegetated, steeply sloping forest and drier, open, gently sloping forest. The densest populations of Chuditch have been found in riparian forest. Chuditch have never been recorded in pure Karri (Eucalyptus diversicolor) forest (Orell & Morris 1994).

Prior to the initiation of the European Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) control program, highest densities of Chuditch were found in riparian (areas adjacent to lakes, rivers and wetlands) vegetation where food supply is better or more reliable, and the dense undergrowth may provide protection from predators (Orell & Morris 1994). With the implementation of the European Red Fox control, high densities of Chuditch have been observes in upland eucalypt woodland.

In Jarrah forest, Chuditch utilise horizontal hollow logs or earth burrows as dens or refuge (Orell & Morris 1994). To be suitable as den sites, logs must have a diameter of at least 30 cm but usually greater than 50 cm, a hollow diameter of 7–20 cm and generally 1 m long (Orell & Morris 1994). Annually, an adult female Chuditch will utilise an estimated average of 66 logs and 110 burrows within her home range (Orell & Morris 1994).

Chuditch are capable of surviving the current prescribed burning regimes (generally five to seven year rotation) undertaken in Jarrah forest. It is likely that cooler spring burns are preferred, as den logs are generally not destroyed and invertebrate fauna recover more quickly during this season (Orell & Morris 1994).

Chuditch does not rely on any listed threatened ecological community but it is associated with other threatened species. Chuditch have been translocated to sites considered Fauna Reconstruction sites under the Western Shield Program (e.g. Kalbarri National Park) where other threatened species have also been introduced (Orell 2004). Chuditch are found in habitat also occupied by Western Ringtail Possums (Pseudocheirus occidentalis), Quokka (Setonix brachyurus), Numbat (Myremycobius fasciatus), Bilby (Macrotis lagotis), Boodie (Burrowing Bettong, Bettongia lesueur) and Red-tailed Phascogale (Phascogale calura) (Orell 2004).

Both males and females can breed in their first year; however, it is likely that second year males are more successful at mating when they have achieved a larger size than females. Highest fecundity is associated with first year females, which also comprise over half the breeding female population (Orell & Morris 1994). The average lifespan in the wild is two to three years, and Chuditch usually do not live beyond four years (Soderquist 1988). In captivity, Chuditch have been known to live for at least 5.5 years (Serena et al. 1991). Sex ratios are close to parity for both pouch young and breeding adults (Orell & Morris 1994).

Chuditch are seasonal breeders with females entering oestrus in late April. Births occur between May and September and peak between June and July. Chuditch are promiscuous and females may mate with several different males for the duration of her oestrus (approximately four to ten days) (Stead-Richardson et al. 2001). After two months in the pouch, young are deposited in a den to allow the mother to forage (Orell & Morris 1994): at this time, the young are particularly vulnerable. The young are weaned at five to six months.

The following table presents a summary of the Chuditch breeding cycle (Serena et al. 1991; Orell & Morris 1994):

Season Event
Late April–early July Females enter oestrus, mating occurs. Gestation 17–18 days.
Mid May–mid July Birth of 2–6 young. Pouch life 61 days.
Mid July–mid September Young deposited in burrow/nest
Mid October–mid December Young are weaned at about 170 days
November–January Young disperse and will breed in their first year.

The diet of Chuditch is predominantly large invertebrates and is supplemented by small mammals, birds and lizards (Orell & Morris 1994). Some plant matter has also been recorded in the diet including the red pulp surrounding Zamia (Macrozamia reidlei) seeds (Serena et al. 1991). Food is limited during the colder months between June and August (Orell & Morris 1994).

Chuditch primarily forage on the ground at night, however, are also able to climb trees to obtain prey or escape from predators (Orell & Morris 1994). Chuditch can come into conflict with humans by scavenging food around camp sites and by raiding chicken coups. Chuditch are known to forage along roads and to feed on carrion, making them vulnerable to road traffic.

Despite Chuditch being able to swim, several drownings have been recorded (Serena et al. 1991). These are presumed to be the result of Chuditch slipping when drinking from water tanks, rivers and other water sources such as those provided by apiarists for bees.

Chuditch are primarily active at night, but activity during the day has been recorded during the breeding season and when cold, wet weather restricts nocturnal foraging (Orell & Morris 1994). In Jarrah forest they shelter during the day in horizontal, hollow logs or earth burrows (Orell & Morris 1994). In the desert, the species utilise hollow logs and tree limbs, the earth burrows of other animals, such as the Burrowing Bettong and Bilby, as well as burrows in termitaria (Burbidge et al. 1988).

Juvenile female Chuditch remain close to the maternal home range, whereas males will disperse within two weeks of weaning (Soderquist & Serena 2000). Seasonal movements have not been recorded for the species. This species are solitary animals that occupy large home ranges.
The following table presents estimates for Chuditch home range at given sites:


Site Males Females Reference
Batalling 7.91km² (min convex polygon) 3.14km² (min convex polygon) Mathew 1996
Batalling 5.09km² (harmonic means) 2.78km² (harmonic means) Mathew 1996
Murray River 15km² with overlapping core of 4km² 3–6km² with non-overlapping core of 0.9km² Serena & Soderquist 1989b

It is difficult to confuse Chuditch with other species. No other Quoll species occur in south-west Australia. Chuditch is distinguishable from other mammals within its present range by its white spotted brown coat, large rounded ears, pointed muzzle, large dark eyes and a non-hopping gait (Orell & Morris 1994). If subspecies are accepted, Dasyurus geoffroii fortis, which occurs in south-west Western Australia, is considered to be somewhat larger and whiter underneath than D. geoffroii geoffroii, but the lack of east Australian specimens makes this comparison hard to confirm (Troughton 1973). Whilst they are easily identified when observed or trapped, they are not always easy to detect. Chuditch are known to persist at very low densities at some locations and therefore may be undetectable by standard trapping.

The standard trapping method for monitoring under the Western Shield program is 100 cage traps placed at 200 m intervals along tracks and baited with a mixture of rolled oats, peanut butter and sardines. Chuditch are captured using this method but capture rate can be improved by using a meat-based bait. Chuditch are nocturnal so traps are set overnight and checked early in the morning (WA DEC 2007a).

Chuditch appear to be most readily trapped in June/July when food is relatively scarce and males are roaming widely in search of mates (Serena & Soderquist 1988). Trapping is not recommended between mid-August and early October, when juveniles are first deposited in dens and are most vulnerable to cold and predators (Serena & Soderquist 1988). Consideration should also be given to weather conditions when trapping (e.g. too hot or too wet). Chuditch are relatively placid when trapped and handled; but, mammal handling experience is required. This species is occasionally seen whilst spotlighting but this is not considered a reliable method to detect the species in an area, or to monitor changes in distribution and abundance.

The following table presents potential and identified threats to Chuditch (Morris et al. 2003; Orell & Morris 1994):

Threat Past Present Potential Future Geographical extent of threat
European Red Fox predation and competition Yes Yes Yes Everywhere but less threat on conservation estate where baiting to control European Red Fox is undertaken.
Cat predation and competition Yes Yes Yes Everywhere
Altered fire regimes Yes Yes Yes Everywhere
Road trauma Yes Yes Yes In vicinity of roads. The core of large reserves would be least affected.
Consumption of Feral Cat (Felis catus) baits     Yes Research sites and potentially broadscale areas.
Loss of habitat (including vegetation and den logs) Yes Yes Yes Wheatbelt and Swan Coastal Plain
Grazing by livestock and rabbits Yes     Wheatbelt
Shooting and poisoning Yes Yes Yes In proximity to populated areas including the Wheatbelt, Swan Coastal Plain and boundaries with forest areas.
Climate change   Yes Yes Everywhere. Prediction is that the northern distribution boundary may contract south.

Past Threats
Many factors are likely to have contributed to the progressive decline of Chuditch in different areas. Habitat alteration is likely to have affected many occurrences through the combined influences of grazing by livestock and rabbits, land clearing and altered fire regimes. Disease has been implicated in the decline of many species but is difficult to prove. Predation by, and competition with, European Red Foxes and Feral Cats is also likely to have affected the abundance of Chuditch. Shortridge (1909) noted that Chuditch were "killed off as much as possible in the agricultural and more thickly populated districts on account of being so destructive to poultry". Shooting and poisoning, both deliberately and as a side effect of targeting other species (particularly Rabbits, Oryctolagus cuniculus, and European Red Foxes), probably contributed to the loss of Chuditch from some areas (Morris et al. 2003).

Current Threats
Being a top-order predator, the fate of the Chuditch is tied to the abundance of its prey and the health of the ecosystem. Many factors affect the abundance of prey and ecosystem health, including weather or climatic conditions, disease and habitat destruction. Land clearing or removal of suitable den logs can limit the ability of the Chuditch to move through the landscape and therefore restrict the area of suitable habitat available to the Chuditch (Morris et al. 2003).

Predation by, and competition with, European Red Foxes and Feral Cats are likely to adversely affect the Chuditch. The trial use and possible widescale implementation of Feral Cat baiting has the potential to impact Chuditch negatively if the cat baits are delivered in such a way that Chuditch have the opportunity to consume a fatal dose. Further research is underway (Morris et al. 2003).

Chuditch come into conflict with humans by raiding Chicken coups and therefore may be subjected to poisoning, trapping and illegal shooting (Morris et al. 2003).

Chuditch are occasionally found drowned in water tanks (Morris et al. 2003).

Reports of Chuditch are often through the collection of roadkills. Road traffic is therefore a current threat to Chuditch populations and may contribute to the decline in abundance of the species near roads (Morris et al. 2003).

Future Threats
Pouliquen-Young (1999) predicted that if climate change caused the temperature to increase by 2° C then the area north of the line between Perth and Norseman will become climatically unfavourable for Chuditch. It has been predicted that by 2040 the temperature in Western Australia will rise between 2 and 4° C with the greatest warming in the south and in winter (Arnold 1988). The largest portion of the Chuditch population currently occupies habitat south of this line. However, subpopulations at Julimar State Forest and in the Avon Valley may become sparser as a result of climate change. Despite this, as this is a wide-ranging species which formerly occupied arid areas, it is likely to be less impacted by climate change than other endemic south-west species (Morris et al. 2003).

Burbidge and McKenzie (1989) showed that most terrestrial Australian mammals in the weight range of 35 g to 5.5 kg mean adult body weight have declined or become extinct. Chuditch falls within this "critical weight range". This weight range coincides with the preferred prey size of the European Red Fox (Morris et al. 2003).

Research into effective Feral Cat baiting strategies that minimise impact on Chuditch will provide advice regarding the feasibility of broadscale or site-based cat control projects. Effective Feral Cat baiting strategies could allow the expansion of re-introduction projects into arid areas (Morris et al. 2003).

Research is currently being conducted into the interactions between predators, both native and introduced. The results of this research are expected to have direct management implications for Chuditch and feral predator control programs, including the Western Shield program (Morris et al. 2003).

Large numbers of Chuditch currently inhabit the Bindoon Defence Training Area, adjacent to Julimar Forest. The numbers appear to be high enough to provide animals for a translocation directly from the wild (WA DEC 2007), something that wasn't previously thought possible. Investigation into the reasons for the high numbers could benefit the conservation and management of the species.

To help guard against climate change, Pouliquen-Young (1999) recommends the re-introduction of certain species to widely spaced geographical areas, especially those species that are now restricted to areas at the limit of their historical distribution (e.g. Cape Arid NP). Translocations are proposed to release Chuditch on Dirk Hartog Island and the former Lorna Glen pastoral station (north-east of Wiluna) in the arid zone of Western Australia (Hancock et al. 1999).

The recovery plan for this species (Orell & Morris 1994) was based on a wildlife management program (Serena et al. 1991). The recovery actions proposed in the plan were:

  • Research the impact of timber harvesting in Jarrah forest on Chuditch populations.
  • Research the impact of prescribed burning in Jarrah forest on Chuditch populations.
  • Research the impact of the introduced European Red Fox and European Red Fox control on Chuditch populations.
  • Monitor existing populations in Jarrah forest.
  • Commence and maintain a captive-breeding program.
  • Translocate Chuditch to areas where they once occurred.

Morris and colleagues (2003) provide an overview of the progress made in implementing the actions proposed under the species recovery plan and assess the extent to which the criteria for success set-out in the recovery plan have been achieved.

A bibliography covering references relevant to the Chuditch was prepared by Smith and colleagues (2004). This bibliography provides a list of references that fit into various subject headings and provides a comprehensive list of major studies that have been undertaken on the Chuditch up to 2004.

Glen and colleagues (2009) have reviewed published material focused on interactions between the Chuditch and introduced predators.

A wildlife management program for the species (Serena et al. 1991) was used as the basis for preparing the species recovery plan (Orell & Morris 1994). The recovery plan was written to run for a term of 10 years and has now expired; Morris and colleagues (2003) provide an overview of progress and a draft recovery plan is in preparation.

The Chuditch is listed Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes (Mawell et al. 1996).

The Chuditch is listed in the Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by the European Fox (EA 1999a).

The Chuditch is listed in the Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by Feral Cats (EA 1999b).

The Chuditch is listed in the Threat Abatement Plan for Competition and Land Degradation by Feral Rabbits (EA 1999c).

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation The 1996 Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes (Maxwell, S., A.A. Burbidge & K. Morris, 1996) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Chuditch Recovery Plan 1992-2001 (Orell, P. & K. Morris, 1994) [State Recovery Plan].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Grazing pressures and associated habitat changes Chuditch Recovery Plan 1992-2001 (Orell, P. & K. Morris, 1994) [State Recovery Plan].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Habitat loss and modification due to clearance of native vegetation and pasture improvements The Impact of Global Warming on the Distribution of Threatened Vertebrates (ANZECC 1991) (Dexter, E.M., A.D. Chapman & J.R. Busby, 1995) [Report].
The Implications of Climate Change for Land-based Nature Conservation Strategies (Pouliquen-Young, O. & P. Newman, 1999) [Report].
Biological Resource Use:Hunting and Collecting Terrestrial Animals:illegal control Chuditch Recovery Plan 1992-2001 (Orell, P. & K. Morris, 1994) [State Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Logging and Wood Harvesting:Habitat disturbance due to foresty activities Chuditch Recovery Plan 1992-2001 (Orell, P. & K. Morris, 1994) [State Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Logging and Wood Harvesting:Habitat loss, modification and degradation due to timber harvesting Chuditch Recovery Plan 1992-2001 (Orell, P. & K. Morris, 1994) [State Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:shooting Chuditch Recovery Plan 1992-2001 (Orell, P. & K. Morris, 1994) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Oryctolagus cuniculus (Rabbit, European Rabbit) Chuditch Recovery Plan 1992-2001 (Orell, P. & K. Morris, 1994) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Vulpes vulpes (Red Fox, Fox) Chuditch Recovery Plan 1992-2001 (Orell, P. & K. Morris, 1994) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Felis catus (Cat, House Cat, Domestic Cat) Chuditch Recovery Plan 1992-2001 (Orell, P. & K. Morris, 1994) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Presence of pathogens and resulting disease Chuditch Recovery Plan 1992-2001 (Orell, P. & K. Morris, 1994) [State Recovery Plan].
Dietary niche of the western quoll, Dasyurus geoffroii, in the jarrah forest of Western Australia. Australian Mammalogy. 17:133-136. (Soderquist, T.R. & M. Serena, 1994) [Journal].
Predicted susceptibility of Dasyurus geoffroii to canid baiting programmes: variation due to sex, season and bait type. Wildlife Research. 20:287-296. (Soderquist, T.R. & Serena, M., 1993) [Journal].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:pest animal control Chuditch Recovery Plan 1992-2001 (Orell, P. & K. Morris, 1994) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Competition and/or predation by birds Chuditch Recovery Plan 1992-2001 (Orell, P. & K. Morris, 1994) [State Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Chuditch Recovery Plan 1992-2001 (Orell, P. & K. Morris, 1994) [State Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate prescribed regimes and/or vegetation management to control fire regimes Chuditch Recovery Plan 1992-2001 (Orell, P. & K. Morris, 1994) [State Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Garbage and Solid Waste:Dumping of household and industrial waste Dietary niche of the western quoll, Dasyurus geoffroii, in the jarrah forest of Western Australia. Australian Mammalogy. 17:133-136. (Soderquist, T.R. & M. Serena, 1994) [Journal].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals Chuditch Recovery Plan 1992-2001 (Orell, P. & K. Morris, 1994) [State Recovery Plan].
Transportation and Service Corridors:Roads and Railroads:Vehicle related mortality Chuditch Recovery Plan 1992-2001 (Orell, P. & K. Morris, 1994) [State Recovery Plan].

Anonymous (Anon.) (1998). Chuditch captured at Salmon Gums. Esperance Express. 10 Sept:7.

Arnold, G.W. (1988). Possible effects of climate change on wildlife in Western Australia. In: Pearman, G.I., ed. Greenhouse: Planning for Climate Change. Page(s) 375-38. Melbourne: CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research.

Burbidge, A.A. & N.L. McKenzie (1989). Patterns in the modern decline of Western Australia's vertebrate fauna: causes and conservation implications. Biological Conservation. 50:143-198.

Burbidge, A.A., K.A. Johnson, P.J. Fuller, & R.I. Southgate (1988). Aboriginal knowledge of the mammals of the central deserts of Australia. Australian Wildlife Research. 15:9-39.

Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC) (2011j). Survey guidelines for Australia's threatened mammals. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.5. [Online]. EPBC Act policy statement: Canberra, ACT: DSEWPAC. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/publications/threatened-mammals.html.

Environment Australia (EA) (1999a). Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by the European Red Fox. [Online]. Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/foxes08.html.

Environment Australia (EA) (1999b). Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by Feral Cats. [Online]. Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/cats08.html.

Environment Australia (EA) (1999c). Threat Abatement Plan for Competition and Land Degradation by Feral Rabbits. [Online]. Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/rabbits08.html.

Firestone, K.B. (1999). The application of molecular genetics to the conservation management of quolls, Dasyurus species(Dasyuridae: Marsupialia). Ph.D. Thesis. PhD Thesis, University of New South Wales.

Glen, A.S., P.J. de Tores, D.R. Sutherland & K.D. Morris (2009). Interactions between chuditch (Dasyurus geoffroii) and introduced predators: a review. Australian Journal of Zoology. 57(5):347-356.

Hancock, S., P. Brown & B. Stephens (2000). Shark Bay terrestrial reserves management plan 2000-2009 Department of Conservation and Land Management for the National Parks and Nature. Page(s) 83. WA Department of Conservation and Land Management.

Mathew, H. (1996). An investigation into the effect of management strategies on the home range of chuditch (Dasyurus geoffroii). Hons. Thesis. Honours Thesis, University of Western Australia.

Maxwell, S., A.A. Burbidge & K. Morris (1996). The 1996 Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes. [Online]. Wildlife Australia, Environment Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/resource/action-plan-australian-marsupials-and-monotremes.

Morris, K., B. Johnson, P. Orell, G. Gaikhorst, A. Wayne & D. Moro (2003). Recovery of the threatened chuditch (Dasyurus geoffroii): a case study. In: Jones, M., C. Dickman & M. Archer (Eds.), eds. Predators with Pouches - the biology of carnivorous marsupials. Page(s) 435-45. Collingwood, Victoria: CSIRO Publishing.

Orell, P. (2004). Fauna monitoring and staff training: Western Shield review - February 2003. Conservation Science Western Australia. 5(2):51-95.

Orell, P. & K. Morris (1994). Chuditch Recovery Plan 1992-2001. [Online]. Wanneroo: WA CALM. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/chuditch/index.html.

Pouliquen-Young, O. & P. Newman (1999). The Implications of Climate Change for Land-based Nature Conservation Strategies. Canberra and Perth: Australian Greenhouse Office, Environment Australia and Institute for Science and Technology Policy, Murdoch University.

Ride, W.D.L. (1970). Native Mammals of Australia. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Serena, M. & T.R. Soderquist (1988). Field techniques for working with chuditch (Dasyurus geoffroii). Department of Conservation and Land Management.

Serena, M. & T.R. Soderquist (1989b). Spatial organization of a riparian population of the carnivorous marsupial Dasyurus geoffroii. Journal of Zoology (London). 219:373-383.

Serena, M. & T.R. Soderquist (1995). Western quoll. In: Strahan, R., ed. The Mammals of Australia. Page(s) 62-64. Reed Books: Sydney.

Serena, M., T.R. Soderquist & K.D. Morris (1991). Western Australian Wildlife Management Program No 7: The Chuditch. Como, Western Australia: Department of Conservation and Land Management.

Shortridge, G.C. (1909). An account of the geographical distribution of the marsupials and monotremes of southwest Australia, having special reference to the specimens collected during the Balston expedition of 1904-1907. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. 55:803-848.

Smith, J.A., L.J. Wright & K. Morris (2004). Bibliochuditch: The chuditch, Dasyurus geoffroii (Gould 1841); a Wildlife Science Library subject-specific bibliography. Conservation Science Western Australia. 5(1):6-19.

Soderquist, T.R. (1988). The ecology of the chuditch (Dasyurus geoffroii) in the jarrah forest: a summary of facts relevant to management. Department of Conservation and Land Management.

Soderquist, T.R. & M. Serena (2000). Juvenile behaviour and dispersal among chuditch, Dasyurus geoffroii (Marsupialia). Australian Journal of Zoology. 48:551-560.

Stead-Richardson, E.J., S.D. Bradshaw, F.J. Bradshaw & G. Gaikhorst (2001). Monitoring the oestrus cycle of the chuditch (Dasyurus geoffroii) (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae): non-invasive analysis of faecal oestradiol-17beta. Australian Journal of Zoology. 49:183-193.

Troughton, E. (1973). Furred Animals of Australia. Brisbane: Angus and Robertson.

University of Western Australia (UWA) (2010). Elusive Chuditch Spotted in Southern Suburbs. Media Statement Tuesday May 11 2010. [Online]. Available from: http://www.news.uwa.edu.au/201005112481/research/elusive-chuditch-spotted-southern-suburbs.

Van Dyck, S. & R. Strahan (2008). The Mammals of Australia, Third Edition. Page(s) 880. Sydney: Reed New Holland.

Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation (WA DEC) (2007a). Threatened and Priority Fauna Database. (formerly WA Department of Conservation and Land Management).

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Dasyurus geoffroii in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Fri, 18 Apr 2014 04:30:52 +1000.