Conservation status

Fourteen (24%) of the 58 smaller (less than 17.6 oz; 500 g) and two (40%) of the five larger (more than 17.6 oz; 500 g) Australian dasyurids are classified as Vulnerable, Endangered, or Data Deficient (IUCN criteria). This list does not include another five small and two larger species that are Lower Risk/Near Threatened. There is insufficient information available to assess the status of the New Guinean dasyurids.

Among the smaller species, larger (3.5-17.6 oz;100-500 g) body size and restricted habitat associations correlate strongly with endangerment. Habitat loss and fragmentation, altered fire regimes, and predation are the main threatening processes. The larger dasyurids have been more affected by human impacts than the smaller species. This is perhaps a consequence of their lower population densities and greater needs for space. They also are more likely to run into direct conflict with humans over livestock depredations, and are susceptible to non-target poisoning from fox baits and road mortality. The principal factor threatening the smaller quolls has been predation by red foxes, resulting in catastrophic declines and population extinctions across continental Australia everywhere fox populations are abundant. Tasmania has remained dingo- and fox-free until very recently (2000) and has functioned as a refuge for larger dasyurids, supporting healthy populations of three species.

A recovery plan implemented in 1992 for the chuditch (western quoll) has used captive breeding, reintroduction, and translocation of quolls to suitable areas of habitat within its former distributional range, as well as intense ongoing fox control through poison-baiting programs. The success

A slender-tailed dunnart (Sminthopsis murina) scenting the air. (Photo by Animals Animals ©B. & B. Wells, OSF. Reproduced by permission.)

of this plan saw the recovery of this species from Endangered to Vulnerable in 1996. Chuditch may soon be removed from threatened species lists as well, although it is likely to retain the status of Lower Risk/Conservation Dependent, referring to the requirement in perpetuity for fox control. No recovery plans have yet been adopted for the smaller species.

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