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
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Lagorchestes hirsutus bernieri (Rufous Hare-wallaby (Bernier Island)) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008dc) [Conservation Advice].
 
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Lagorchestes hirsutus bernieri (Rufous Hare-wallaby (Bernier Island)) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2012bi) [Listing Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan not required, included on the Not Commenced List (1/11/2009).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Other EPBC Act Plans Rufous Hare-Wallaby (Lagorchestes hirsutus) National Recovery Plan (Richards, J.D., 2012) [Recovery Plan].
 
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].
 
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].
 
Non-government
    Documents and Websites
The action plan for threatened Australian macropods 2011-2021 (World Wildlife Fund for Nature - Australia (WWF), 2011).
State Listing Status
WA: Listed as Vulnerable (Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (Western Australia): September 2013 list)
Scientific name Lagorchestes hirsutus bernieri [66662]
Family Macropodidae:Diprotodonta:Mammalia:Chordata:Animalia
Species author  
Infraspecies author Thomas, 1907
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

Western Australia (WA): Listed as Vulnerable under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950. This listing includes Lagorchestes hirsutus dorreae, which is listed separately under the EPBC Act.

Scientific name: Lagorchestes hirsutus bernieri

Common name: Rufous Hare-wallaby (Bernier Island)

Lagorchestes hirsutus has four accepted subspecies (AFD 2012; WWF 2011):

  • L. h. bernieri, Bernier Island in Western Australia (WA)
  • L. h. dorreae, Dorre Island in WA
  • L. h. hirsutus, south-west in WA (extinct)
  • L. h. unnamed subspecies, central Australia and Trimouille Island in WA

There is a strong case for  L. h. dorreae, which is listed separately under the EPBC Act, to be included with L. h. bernieri (Eldridge et al. 2004). The WA Government has accepted this inclusion (Eldridge & Spencer 2004 cited in TSSC 2012bi), but the Australian Biological Resources Study is yet to accept it (AFD 2012). The WA Government considers the Bernier Island population to have a higher conservation priority (Burbidge pers. comm. cited in WWF 2011). The subspecies' are reported to be highly inbred between and within populations (Eldridge & Spencer 2004 cited in TSSC 2012bi; Eldridge et al. 2004).

The Rufous Hare-Wallaby (Bernier Island) is a small macropod (1.5–2 kg, 30–40 cm tall) that is rufous coloured (grey-brown-orange) (Johnson & Burbidge 2008). The average tail length is 27 cm (Strahan 1998). Longer hair occurs towards the back and below (Johnson & Burbidge 2008). Larger than the mainland subspecies, the Bernier Island subspecies has a shorter tail (Johnson & Burbidge 2008).

The Rufous Hare-wallaby (Bernier Island) exists as a single population on Bernier Island, Western Australia (Maxwell et al. 1996). The island is 44 km² in area (Richards 2007a).

Abundance of the Rufous Hare-wallaby (Bernier Island) fluctuates greatly. Its abundance tends to increase in response to periods of higher rainfall and wild fire events (Johnson & Burbidge 2008), and decreases in response to drought (Richards 2007a). Compared with historic abundance, a 65% reduction in numbers was observed on Bernier and Dorree Islands in 2007–09 in response to drought (WA DEC 2010 cited in TSSC 2012bi). The following table presents total population estimates:

Year Abundance Reference
2010 1346 Reinhold (2010 cited in WWF 2011)
2009 453 Richards (2012)
2008 542 Richards (2012)
2007 148 Richards (2012)
2006 720 Richards (2012)
1991–92 3090 Short and colleagues (1997)
1989 2600 Short and Turner (1992)

The Rufous Hare-wallaby (Bernier Island) is restricted to Bernier and Dorre Islands Nature Reserve.

This Rufous Hare-wallaby (Bernier Island) occurs in all habitat types on Bernier Island, including dunes, heath, grassland and low scrub in proportion to their availability (Short & Turner 1992). Dominant plant species in heath include Scaevola crassifolia, Thryptomene baeckeacea and Melaleuca cardiophylla; in grassland plants include Triodia plurinervata; and in low scrub, Pileanthus limacis, Diplolaena dampieriPimelea microcephala, Acacia rostellifera and Wirewood (Acacia coriacea) (Short et al. 1997).

The Rufous Hare-wallaby can live for at least eight years in captivity (Lundie-Jenkins & Moore 1996), and observed sexual maturity ranges between 5 and 18 months for females and 14 months for males (Langford 2001). The species is polyoestrous (more than one estrus a year) and monovular (single egg) (Lundie-Jenkins 1993b). They typically carry a single pouch young at a time between March and September (Richards et al. 2001). The species is regarded as a continuous breeder under favourable conditions (Johnson & Burbidge 1995), however, breeding is interrupted by drought (Lundie-Jenkins 1989; Tyndale-Biscoe & Renfree 1987)

The Rufous Hare-wallaby (Bernier Island) is a herbivore and eats forbs, perennial grasses, grass seed heads, seeds, bulbs of sedges and some dicotyledonous plants, such as Neobassia astrocarpa and Frankenia sp. (as Lagorchestes hirsutus unnamed subsp.) (Pearson 1989).

Data on home range and movements are not available but densities are twice as high (0.62 per ha in 1989) as for the Dorre Island subspecies (Short & Turner 1992).

The Survey guidelines for Australia's threatened mammals (DSEWPaC 2011j) includes survey design principles when planning a mammal survey and includes recommendations for survey methods for the Rufous Hare-wallaby (Bernier Island) and its habitat (DSEWPaC 2011j).

Potential threats include a major fire event, disease, development and the accidental introduction of feral predators (Richards 2007a). There are no existing feral predators on Bernier Island, although the Domestic Cat (Felis catus) as present in the early 1900s (Friend 1990). If the Rufous Hare-wallaby (Bernier Island) is restocked on other islands or the mainland, predation by the Domestic Cat and the Fox (Vulpes vulpes) are likely to be a major concern.

The low levels of genetic variation in the subspecies (Eldridge et al. 2004) could worsen as a result of threats associated with genetic bottlenecks.

The Rufous Hare-wallaby (Lagorchestes hirsutus) National Recovery Plan (Richards 2012) includes the following specific objectives for the recovery of the Rufous Hare-wallaby:

  • maintain the populations of the Shark Bay islands subspecies at their current sizes
  • maintain the Mala (Lagorchestes hirsutus unnamed subsp.) population on Trimouille Island at its current size
  • maintain the captive Rufous Hare-wallaby population at its current size where appropriate
  • initiate two additional mainland or island Rufous Hare-wallaby populations.

The Action Plan for Threatened Macropods 2011-2021 (WWF 2011) identifies recovery objectives for Lagorchestes hirsutus, which includes increasing the range of the species, stabilising the population of the species and reducing the threat of introduced predators. Implementation of relevant actions are likely to benefit the Rufous Hare-wallaby (Bernier Island).

Management documents relevant to this species are at the start of the profile.

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
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Climate Change and Severe Weather:Climate change altering atmosphere/hydrosphere temperatures, rainfall patterns and/or frequency of severe weather events Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Lagorchestes hirsutus bernieri (Rufous Hare-wallaby (Bernier Island)) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008dc) [Conservation Advice].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Droughts:Drought Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Lagorchestes hirsutus bernieri (Rufous Hare-wallaby (Bernier Island)) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008dc) [Conservation Advice].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Ecosystem Degradation:Decline in habitat quality Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Lagorchestes hirsutus bernieri (Rufous Hare-wallaby (Bernier Island)) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008dc) [Conservation Advice].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence) Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Lagorchestes hirsutus bernieri (Rufous Hare-wallaby (Bernier Island)) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008dc) [Conservation Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Vulpes vulpes (Red Fox, Fox) Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Lagorchestes hirsutus bernieri (Rufous Hare-wallaby (Bernier Island)) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008dc) [Conservation Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Felis catus (Cat, House Cat, Domestic Cat) Status of bandicoots in Western Australia. In: Seebeck, J., P. Brown, R. Wallis & C. Kemper, eds. Bandicoots and Bilbies. Page(s) 73-84. (Friend, J.A., 1990) [Book].
Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Lagorchestes hirsutus bernieri (Rufous Hare-wallaby (Bernier Island)) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008dc) [Conservation Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Competition and/or predation by birds Lagorchestes hirsutus bernieri in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006mn) [Internet].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Predation by reptiles Wedge-tailed eagle Aquila audax predation on endangered mammals and rabbits at Shark Bay, Western Australia. Emu. 98:23-31. (Richards, J.D. & J. Short, 1998) [Journal].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Lagorchestes hirsutus bernieri (Rufous Hare-wallaby (Bernier Island)) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008dc) [Conservation Advice].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low genetic diversity and genetic inbreeding Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Lagorchestes hirsutus bernieri (Rufous Hare-wallaby (Bernier Island)) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008dc) [Conservation Advice].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Lagorchestes hirsutus bernieri (Rufous Hare-wallaby (Bernier Island)) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008dc) [Conservation Advice].

Australian Faunal Directory (AFD) (2012). Australian Faunal Directory. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/abrs/online-resources/fauna/afd/home.

Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria (CHAH) (2012). Australian Plant Census. [Online]. Australian National Herbarium, Australian National Botanic Gardens and Australian Biological Resources Study . Available from: http://www.anbg.gov.au/cgi-bin/apclist.

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.

Eldridge, M.D.B., J.E. Kinnear, K.R. Zenger, L.M. McKenzie & P.B.S. Spencer (2004). Genetic diversity in remnant mainland and "pristine" island populations of three endemic Australian macropodids (Marsupialia): Macropus eugenii, Lagorchestes hirsutus and Petrogale lateralis. Conservation Genetics. 5:325-338.

Friend, J.A. (1990). Status of bandicoots in Western Australia. In: Seebeck, J., P. Brown, R. Wallis & C. Kemper, eds. Bandicoots and Bilbies. Page(s) 73-84. Sydney: Surrey Beatty & Sons.

Johnson, K.A. & A.A. Burbidge (1995). Rufous hare-wallaby. In: Strahan, R, ed. The Mammals of Australia. Page(s) 316-318. Chatswood: Reed.

Johnson, K.A. & A.A. Burbidge (2008). Rufous Hare-wallaby Lagorchestes hirsutus Gould, 1844. In: Van Dyck, S. & R. Strahan, eds. The Mammals of Australia - Third Edition. Reed New Holland.

Langford, D. (2000). Recovery Plan for the Mala (Lagorchestes hirsutus) 1999-2003. [Online]. National Parks and Wildlife Serve, Northern Territory. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/mala/index.html.

Lundie-Jenkins, G. (1993b). Reproduction and growth to sexual maturity in the rufous hare-wallaby, Lagorchestes hirsutus Gould, (Marsupialia: Macropodidae) in captivity. Australian Mammalogy. 16:45-49.

Lundie-Jenkins, G., C.M. Phillips & P.J. Jarman (1993a). Ecology of the rufous hare-wallaby, Lagorchestes hirsutus Gould (Marsupialia: Macropodidae), in the Tanami Desert, Northern Territory. 2. Diet and feeding strategy. Wildlife Research. 20:477-494.

Lundie-Jenkins, G.W. (1989). The ecology and management of the rufous hare-wallaby Lagorchestes hirsutus in the Northern Territory. Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory, Alice Springs.

Lundie-Jenkins, G.W. & G. Moore (1996). Recovery Plan for the Mala (Lagorchestes hirsutus). Report submitted to Australian Nature Conservation Agency. Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, Alice Springs.

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.

Pearson, D.J. (1989). The diet of the rufous hare-wallaby (Marsupalia: Macropodidae) in the Tanami Desert. Australian Wildlife Research. 16:527-535.

Richards, J. (2007a). Rufous hare-wallaby (Lagorchestes hirsutus) Recovery Plan 2007-2011. Wildlife Management Program No. 43. Perth: Department of Environment and Conservation.

Richards, J.D. (2012). Rufous Hare-Wallaby (Lagorchestes hirsutus) National Recovery Plan. [Online]. Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/rufous-hare-wallaby.html.

Richards, J.D. & J. Short (1998). Wedge-tailed eagle Aquila audax predation on endangered mammals and rabbits at Shark Bay, Western Australia. Emu. 98:23-31.

Richards, J.D., J. Short, R.I.T. Prince, J.A. Friend & J.M. Courtenay (2001). The biology of banded (Lagostrophus fasciatus) and rufous (Lagorchestes hirsutus) hare-wllabies (Diprotodontia: Macropodidae) on Dorre and Bernier Islands, Western Australia. Wildlife Research. 28:311-322.

Short, J. & B. Turner (1992). The distribution and abundance of rufous hare-wallabies, Lagostrophus fasciatus and Lagorchestes hirsutus. Biological Conservation. 60:157-166.

Short, J., B. Turner, C. Majors & J. Leone (1997). The fluctuating abundance of endangered mammals on Bernier and Dorre Islands, Western Australia - conservation implications. Australian Mammalogy. 20:53-61.

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

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2012bi). Commonwealth Listing Advice on Lagorchestes hirsutus bernieri (Rufous Hare-wallaby (Bernier Island)). [Online]. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Canberra, ACT: Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/66662-listing-advice.pdf.

Tyndale-Biscoe, C.H. & M. Renfree (1987). Reproductive Physiology of Marsupials. Cambridge University Press.

EPBC Act email updates can be received via the Communities for Communities newsletter and the EPBC Act newsletter.

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). Lagorchestes hirsutus bernieri in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Sat, 2 Aug 2014 00:00:55 +1000.