Title

Distribution, habitat and conservation status of the eastern pygmy-possum Cercartetus nanus in Victoria

Document Type

Article

Publication details

Harris, JM & Goldingay, RL 2005, 'Distribution, habitat and conservation status of the eastern pygmy-possum Cercartetus nanus in Victoria', Australian Mammalogy, vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 185-210.

The publisher's version of this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/AM05185

Peer Reviewed

Peer-Reviewed

Abstract

We review the distribution, habitat and conservation status of the eastern pygmy-possum (Cercartetus nanus) in Victoria. Data on the habitat occurrences and rates of detection were gleaned from 133 published and unpublished fauna surveys conducted from 1968 to 2003 in Gippsland; northern Victoria; the Melbourne area and south-western region. C. nanus was reported from a broad range of vegetation communities, which predominantly included a dense mid-storey of shrubs rich in nectar-producing species such as those from the families Proteaceae and Myrtaceae. Survey effort using a range of methods was immense across surveys: 305,676 Elliott/cage trap-nights, 49,582 pitfall trap-nights, 18,331 predator remains analysed, 4424 spotlight hours, and 7346 hair-sampling devices deployed, 1005 trees stagwatched, and 5878 checks of installed nest-boxes. The surveys produced 434 records of C. nanus, with Elliott/cage trapping, pitfall trapping and analysis of predator remains responsible for the vast majority of records (93%). These data and those from the Atlas of Victorian Wildlife indicate that although C. nanus has a widespread distribution in Victoria, it is rarely observed or trapped in fauna surveys. Only 11 (8%) of the surveys we reviewed detected >10 individuals. C. nanus is likely to be sensitive to several recognised threatening processes in Victoria (e.g., feral predators, high frequency fire, feral honeybees). There is also evidence of range declines in several regions, which suggests that the species is vulnerable to extinction. Therefore, we recommend that it be nominated as a threatened species in Victoria.