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 Endangered
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, included on the Commenced List (1/11/2009).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Other EPBC Act Plans Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by Feral Cats (Environment Australia (EA), 1999b) [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 Listing Status
QLD: Listed as Endangered (Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): July 2012)
Scientific name Dasyurus maculatus gracilis [64475]
Family Dasyuridae:Polyprotodonta:Mammalia:Chordata:Animalia
Species author  
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

Scientific name: Dasyurus maculatus gracilis

Common Name: Spotted-tailed Quoll (Northern Queensland subspecies)

Other Names: Yarri

Conventionally accepted as Dasyurus maculatus gracilis Ramsay, 1888 (AFD 2010a).

Physical

The Spotted-tailed Quoll (North Queensland subspecies) is a large carnivorous marsupial with reddish-brown fur and distinctive white spots of various sizes over its back and tail. Similar in size to a cat but with a more elongated body and shorter legs, individuals can grow up to 76 cm long and males can weigh up to 7 kg (Cronin 1991; Qld DERM 2006; Strahan 1998). The head of the Spotted-tailed Quoll (North Queensland subspecies) has a distinctive pink-red nose and short, rounded ears that just extend above the outline of the head, and a wide gape on opening its mouth.

Behaviour

When moving quickly it bounds and it is also an agile climber. The species can be very vocal, often when encountering a potential mate or another quoll in its territory, and has a distinctive 'piercing' scream. The subspecies is usually nocturnal and solitary (Qld DERM 2006). The Spotted-tailed Quoll (North Queensland subspecies) is smaller than Spotted-tailed Quolls further south on the east coast, in both size and weight, and is also suggested as having a more pronounced spotted coat (Burnett 1993).

Historically, the Spotted-tailed Quoll (North Queensland subspecies) occurred from the Paluma Range near Townsville north to near Cooktown, in north-eastern Queensland. The southern most population in the Paluma Range (Mt Spec region) is possibly extinct, with no records since the early 1940s, despite high levels of visitation and human occupancy of that region. There are no recent records from the Big Tableland and Evelyn Tableland. The northern taxon is now thought to be confined to two extant populations: one centered on the Windsor and Carbine Tablelands, Thornton Peak, Mount Finnegan and associated smaller ranges; and the other centered on the Atherton Tablelands and associated mountain ranges (Burnett 2001, cited in Long & Nelson 2010a).

The species occurs in six small and disjunct populations in tropical northern Queensland with high rainfall and plenty of prey species (Jones et al. 2003).

All populations of this subspecies are important for the long-term survival of the subspecies. However, Long & Nelson (2010a) identified the following four populations as important due to the range contraction that would occur if they were lost:

  • Daintree region
  • Atherton region
  • Great Basalt Wall
  • Mount Spec region.

The subspecies is mostly confined to the relatively cool, wet and climatically equable upland closed-forests (mostly above 900 m altitude) that occur in the upper catchments of rivers draining east and west of the Eastern Escarpment in the Wet Tropics bioregion of north-eastern Queensland (Burnett 2001, cited in Long & Nelson 2010a). Maxwell and colleagues (1996) also suggest the species occurs in lower altitude notophyll, mesophyll and wet sclerophyll forests in lesser numbers. Vegetation types typical of this habitat are simple and complex notophyll vine forest, simple microphyll vine-fern forest and simple microphyll vine-fern thicket (Long & Nelson 2010a).

The subspecies utilises dens for resting and for raising young. Dens have been found in tree hollows, logs, rock crevasses and even among building materials. Maternal dens often have long entrances (Qld DERM 2006).

The lifespan of the Spotted-tailed Quoll (North Queensland subspecies) is approximately three years (Qld DERM 2006).

Breeding has been recorded between June and September in the Spotted-tailed Quoll (North Queensland subspecies). Females have one litter each year, give birth after a 21 day gestation period and there are usually five young in a litter. The young become independent after 18 weeks. Sexual maturity is reached at 12 months of age. Females only produce young in their first two breeding seasons (Qld DERM 2006).

The Spotted-tailed Quoll (North Queensland subspecies) eats a range of animals either as prey or carrion, including insects, reptiles, birds and mammals up to the size of a small wallaby. It is also attracted to areas of human habitation in search of food scraps and, in particular, poultry (Qld DERM 2006).

The Spotted-tailed Quoll (North Queensland subspecies) are territorial with overlapping home ranges. The home ranges of individuals vary from 100–200 ha. Communal latrine sites can be found where these home ranges overlap (Qld DERM 2006). Males are recorded as moving greater distances than females (Burnett 1993).

Habitat loss

Habitat loss, modification and fragmentation are serious threats to the species due to the species large home range requirements and resultant low densities that affects the ability of populations to remain viable (Jones et al. 2003). Impacts of fire, either wildfire or prescribed burning, on habitat is also suggested to impact negatively on the species, through lowering refuge sites, creating homogeneity in vegetation and affecting prey abundance and type, such as arboreal species (Jones et al. 2003).

Habitat disturbance

Other major threats to the Spotted-tailed Quoll (North Queensland subspecies) include heavy timber harvesting that opens up areas with roads and tracks to clearing, non-target poison baiting, competition and predation from introduced carnivores such as cats, deliberate killing, road mortality, poisoning by Cane Toads (Bufo marinus) and climate change through the alteration of the small pockets of suitable habitat they are now found in (Burnett 1993; Jones et al. 2003; Laurance 1991; Long & Nelson 2010a; Maxwell et al. 1996).

A draft recovery plan for the Spotted-tailed Quoll (Long & Nelson 2010a) is open for public comment. Specific objectives of the plan include:

  • Determine the distribution and status of Spotted-tailed Quoll populations throughout the range.
  • Increase knowledge of the biology and ecology of the Spotted-tailed Quoll throughout its range to refine management of the species and its habitat.
  • Reduce the rate of habitat loss and fragmentation on private land.
  • Evaluate and manage the risk posed by silvicultural practices.
  • Determine and manage the threat posed by introduced predators, such as Foxes (Vulpes vulpes), Cats (Felis catus) and Wild Dogs (Canis lupus familaris), and predator control practices on Spotted-tailed Quoll populations.
  • Determine and manage the impact of fire regimes on Spotted-tailed Quoll populations.
  • Reduce deliberate killings of Spotted-tailed Quolls.
  • Reduce the frequency of Spotted-tailed Quoll road mortality.
  • Assess the threat Cane Toads pose to Spotted-tailed Quolls and develop threat abatement actions if necessary.
  • Determine the likely impact of climate change on Spotted-tailed Quoll populations.
  • Increase community awareness of the Spotted-tailed Quoll and involvement in the Recovery Program.
  • Link suitable habitat fragments with corridors.
  • Continue predator and competitor control (eg. The Cat Threat Abatement Plan (Environment Australia 1995b).

The Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (2009) has also developed guidelines for the protection of poultry from Tasmanian Spotted-tailed Quolls and this information would be applicable to the the Spotted-tailed Quoll (North Queensland subspecies). It is recommend that the netting on any fence surrounding a poultry yard should be buried at least 15 cm under the ground so that quolls can not dig underneath (DPIPWE 2009). If it is a moveable chicken pen, it can have an outwardly-directed skirt of small gauge mesh around it to keep quolls out. There should not be any gaps in the netting used on a quoll-proof fence (Qld DERM 2006).

Genetic studies have been undertaken by Firestone and colleagues (1999) indicating that the Spotted-tailed Quoll (Northern Queensland subspecies) has a closer similarity to NSW populations than between other mainland and Tasmanian Quoll populations. This does not, however, mean that the management position of the isolated northern population is any less important (Firestone et al. 1999).

Management documents for the Spotted-tailed Quoll include:

  • Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by Feral Cats (EA 1999b).
  • The 1996 Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes (Maxwell et al. 1996).

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 Dasyurus maculatus gracilisin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006hh) [Internet].
The 1996 Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes (Maxwell, S., A.A. Burbidge & K. Morris, 1996) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Hunting and Collecting Terrestrial Animals:illegal control Dasyurus maculatus gracilisin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006hh) [Internet].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Felis catus (Cat, House Cat, Domestic Cat) The Conservation Status of the Tiger Quoll, (Dasyurus maculatus gracilis) in North Queensland (Burnett, S., 1993) [Report].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Rhinella marina (Cane Toad) Dasyurus maculatus gracilisin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006hh) [Internet].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition, predation and/or habitat degradation Bufo marinus (Cane Toad) Colonizing cane toads cause population declines in native predators: reliable anecdotal information and management implications. Pacific Conservation Biology. 3:65-72. (Burnett, S., 1997) [Journal].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Competition and/or predation by birds Successful foraging by the wedge-tailed eagle Aquila audax in tropical rainforest in north Queensland. Emu. 96:277-280. (Burnett S., J. Winter & R. Russell, 1996) [Journal].
Dasyurus maculatus gracilisin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006hh) [Internet].
Transportation and Service Corridors:Roads and Railroads:Vehicle related mortality Dasyurus maculatus gracilisin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006hh) [Internet].

Australian Faunal Directory (AFD) (2010a). Subspecies Dasyurus maculatus gracilis Ramsay. Page(s) 1888. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/abrs/online-resources/fauna/afd/taxa/Dasyurus_maculatus_gracilis.

Burnett, S. (1993). The Conservation Status of the Tiger Quoll, (Dasyurus maculatus gracilis) in North Queensland. James Cook University, Townsville.

Cronin, L. (1991). Key Guide to Australian Mammals. Balgowlah, NSW: Reed Books.

Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) (2009). Native Plants and Animals. [Online]. Tasmania. Available from: http://www.dpiw.tas.gov.au/inter.nsf/WebPages/SJON-52F7NQ?open.

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) (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.

Firestone, K.B., M.S. Elphinstone, W.B. Sherwin & B.A. Houlden (1999). Phylogeographical population structure of tiger quolls Dasyurus maculatus (Dasyuridae: Marsupialia), an endangered carnivorous marsupial. Molecular Ecology. 8:1613-1625.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (2010). IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. [Online]. Available from: http://www.iucnredlist.org.

Jones, M.E., M. Oakwood C.A. Belcher, K. Morris, A.J. Murray, P.A. Woolley, K.B. Firestone, B. Johnson & S. Burnett (2003). Carnivore Concerns: Problems, issues and solutions for conserving Australasia's marsupial carnivores. In: Jones, M., C. Dickman & M. Archer, eds. Predators with Pouches: The biology of carnivorous marsupials. Page(s) 422-434. Collingwood, Victoria: CSIRO Publishing.

Laurance, W.F. (1991). Ecological correlates of extinction proneness in Australian tropical rain forest mammals. Conservation Biology. 5:79-89.

Long, K & J. Nelson (2010a). (Draft) National Recovery Plan for the Spotted-tailed Quoll Dasyurus maculatus. Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment.

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.

Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (Qld DERM) (2006). Queensland's Quolls. [Online]. Available from: http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/wildlife-ecosystems/wildlife/threatened_plants_and_animals/endangered/queenslands_quolls.html#spotted. [Accessed: 28-May-2010].

Strahan, R. ed (1998). The Mammals of Australia, Second Edition, rev. Sydney, NSW: Australian Museum and Reed New Holland.

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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 maculatus gracilis in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Fri, 25 Apr 2014 15:54:16 +1000.