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 Petaurus australis unnamed subsp. (Fluffy Glider) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008fx) [Conservation Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, included on the Commenced List (1/11/2009).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans National recovery plan for the yellow-bellied glider (Wet Tropics) Petaurus australis unnamed subspecies (Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (Qld DERM), 2011e) [Recovery 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 Vulnerable (Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): May 2014 list)
Scientific name Petaurus australis unnamed subsp. [66668]
Family Petauridae:Diprotodonta:Mammalia:Chordata:Animalia
Species author  
Infraspecies author  
Reference Brown, M., Cooksley, H., Carthew, S.M. and Cooper, S.J.B. 2006. Conservation units and phylogeographic structure of an arboreal marsupial, the yellow-bellied glider (Petaurus australis). Australian Journal of Zoology 54: 305-317
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

The Yellow-bellied Glider (Wet Tropics) is a rabbit-sized gliding marsupial with grey-brown fur and a distinctive off-white to yellow-orange belly. It has a fluffy tail growing to 48 cm long and large, bare ears. This glider grows to 30 cm long and can weigh up to 700 g (Cronin 1991; Strahan 1998).

This subspecies occurs in eucalypt forest in the Atherton region, Queensland, north from the Herbert River Gorge to the Mount Windsor Tableland at altitudes of 700 m+ above sea level (Bradford & Harrington 1999; Quin et al. 1996; Russell 1995).

There are about 13 distinct populations occurring as three geographically separate meta-populations: one on the Mount Windsor Tableland, one on the Mount Carbine Tableland, and the third extending from Atherton to Kirrama on the Atherton Tableland and ranges to the south. The Windsor and Carbine populations occupy quite large blocks of habitat, but the Atherton-Kirrama population occurs in a very narrow, almost linear, stretch of habitat that extends about 130 km north-south but is in many places less than one km wide. The distribution of the Atherton-Kirrama population contains many gaps. South of Ravenshoe (which is approximately at the mid-point of the range of this population) these gaps are due to natural discontinuities of habitat, but to the north they are due to clearing of habitat (Maxwell et al. 1996).

These populations are isolated by a gap from the next northernmost population west of Mackay (Bradford & Harrington 1999; Quin et al. 1996).

Estimates of population density are 0.05-0.14 individuals per ha (Russell 1995) and an estimate of 38 social groups in a 1400 ha area but there are no published estimates of total population size. Attempts to devise a method of population estimation based on aerial survey of feeding trees were unsuccessful (Bradford & Harrington 1999).

The subspecific combination Petaurus australis reginae has been used for this population by a number of authors. This subspecies was described on the basis of a specimen from southern Queensland, said to be Bundaberg, near the northern limit of the main southern distibution of the species. No detailed comparison of the genetics or morphometrics of the isolated northern population(s) to southern forms exists.

The Yellow-bellied Glider inhabits tall open forest on the western fringe of the Wet Tropics Heritage Area. Floristics of the forest may vary from one location to another but the presence of two eucalypt species, Eucalyptus resinifera and Eucalyptus grandis, is essential. The first is used for sap-feeding (Quin et al. 1996; Russell 1984) and the second as a den tree (Bradford & Harrington 1999; Russell 1984). These occur most commonly in the wetter areas of the open eucalypt forest (Harrington & Sanderson 1994). These two species of eucalypt also have disjunct distributions with isolated populations west of Mackay and in the Atherton region and main distributions further south (Chippendale 1988).

Social groups are sedentary and territorial, with minimum overlap between adjacent home ranges, and non-territorial animals are generally not tolerated at feeding trees (Russell 1984).

Home range size was estimated to be over 30 ha (Russell 1984) and in Victorian populations averaged between 42-53 ha (Henry & Craig 1984).

There are two detailed studies of feeding behaviour and diet of the Yellow-bellied Glider in north Queensland (Quin et al. 1996; Smith & Russell 1982). Observations of feeding behaviour indicate sap of Eucalyptus resinifera is the most important item (over 80% of observations year round), while nectar and pollen of Banksia integrifolia are a secondary component of autumn and winter diet. Feeding on other sources (arthropods, honeydew, manna and nectar or pollen of other tree species) has been observed much less frequently. Faecal analysis indicates that sap and eucalypt flowers or pollen are consumed by over 50% of animals throughout the year, and confirms the importance of Banksia pollen in autumn and winter. Pollen from a wide variety of other tree species is also prevalent, particularly in summer and autumn samples. Arthropods are present in faeces throughout the year (Quin et al. 1996).

While sap from Eucalyptus resinifera is the most important dietary item, each group of gliders maintains an average of only two active feeding trees per group (Quin et al. 1996) although earlier observations indicate three or more trees may be used (Russell 1984). In any event the proportion of available feed trees used is very small, estimated to be less than 1% of available trees (Bradford & Harrington 1999). The reasons for the low proportion of available trees actually used is unknown but speculations have included elevated sap flow in certain individual trees (Goldingay & Kavanagh 1991). This selectivity on the part of the gliders contributes to their vulnerability to habitat destruction or alteration.

The major microhabitat requirement for breeding is the presence of suitable nest trees. Breeding groups, consisting of a dominant male and a variable number of adult females may occupy from two to six dens throughout their home range (Russell 1984).

Like all gliders the breeding groups exhibit territorial behaviour towards non-group members.

In north Queensland young are born from May to September (Russell 1995).

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 Petaurus australis unnamed subsp. in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006qt) [Internet].
Biological Resource Use:Logging and Wood Harvesting:Habitat disturbance due to foresty activities Petaurus australis unnamed subsp. in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006qt) [Internet].
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 Petaurus australis unnamed subsp. (Fluffy Glider) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008fx) [Conservation Advice].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Ecosystem Conversion:Alteration of habitat characteristics Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Petaurus australis unnamed subsp. (Fluffy Glider) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008fx) [Conservation Advice].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Loss and/or fragmentation of habitat and/or subpopulations Petaurus australis unnamed subsp. in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006qt) [Internet].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Petaurus australis unnamed subsp. (Fluffy Glider) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008fx) [Conservation Advice].
Residential and Commercial Development:Residential and Commercial Development:Habitat modification (clearance and degradation) due to urban development Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Petaurus australis unnamed subsp. (Fluffy Glider) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008fx) [Conservation Advice].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low genetic diversity and genetic inbreeding Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Petaurus australis unnamed subsp. (Fluffy Glider) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008fx) [Conservation Advice].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals Petaurus australis unnamed subsp. in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006qt) [Internet].

Bradford, M.G. & Harrington, G.N. (1999). Aerial and ground survey of sap trees of the yellow-bellied glider (Petaurus australis reginae) near Atherton, north Queensland. Wildlife Research. 26:723-729.

Chippendale, G.M. (1988). Myrtaceae - Eucalyptus, Angophora. In: Flora of Australia. 19:1-540. Canberra: AGPS.

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

Goldingay, R. & Possingham, H. (1995). Area requirements for viable populations of the Australian gliding marsupial Petaurus australis. Biological Conservation. 73:161-167.

Goldingay, R.L. & Kavanagh, R.P. (1991). The yellow-bellied glider: a review of its ecology, and management considerations. In: Lunney, D., ed. Conservation of Australia's forest fauna. Page(s) 365-375. Mosman, NSW.

Goldingay, Ross L. (2000). Use of sap trees by the yellow-bellied glider in the Shoalhaven region of New South Wales. Wildlife Research. 27:217-222.

Harrington, G.N. & Sanderson, K.D. (1994). Recent contraction of wet sclerophyll forest in the wet tropics of Queensland due to invasion by rainforest. Pacific Conservation Biology. 1:319-327.

Henry, S.R. & Craig, S.A. (1984). Diet, ranging behaviour and social organization of theyellow-bellied glider (Petaurus australis Shaw) in Victoria. In: Smith, A. & Hume, I.D., eds. Possums and gliders. Page(s) 331-341. Surrey Beatty & Sons Pty Ltd, Canberra.

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.

McKay, G.M. (2001). Personal Communication.

Quin, D., Goldingay, R., Churchill, S. & Engel, D. (1996). Feeding behaviour and food availability of the yellow-bellied glider in North Queensland. Wildlife Research. 23: 637-646.

Russell, R. (1984). Social behaviour of the yellow-bellied glider, Petaurus australis reginae in north Queensland. In: Smith, A. & Hume, I.D., eds. Possums and gliders. Page(s) 343-353. Surrey Beatty & Sons Pty Ltd, Canberra.

Russell, R. (1995). Yellow-bellied glider. In: Strahan, R, ed. The Mammals of Australia. Page(s) 226-228. Reed Books: Sydney.

Smith, A. & Russell, R. (1982). Diet of the yellow-bellied glider Petaurus australis (Marsupialia: Petauridae) in north Queensland. Australian Mammalogy. 5:41-45.

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

Werren, G.L. (1993). Conservation strategies for rare and threatened vertebrates of Australia's wet tropics region. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum. 34:229-239.

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). Petaurus australis unnamed subsp. in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:02:51 +1000.