Threats to Australia’s rock-wallabies (Petrogale spp.) with key directions for effective monitoring

Date: 29, Nov, 2021
Author(s):   Tyrone Lavery, Darraga John Watson, Raymond Charles, Vern Chuguna, Richard Cox, Quinton Fiebig, Modra Green, Nathan Green, Marcus Johnson, Conan Lee, Shaquille Millindee, Tyrese Skeen, Albert Watson, William Watson, Josiah Wise, Wade Blanchard, Mark Eldridge, Damien Giles, Alexandra James, Sarah Legge, David Lindenmayer, David Pearson, Darren Southwell, Walalakoo Aboriginal Corporation, Alexander Watson, John Woinarski, Leigh-Ann Woolley
Publisher: TSR Hub

Australia has 25 species and subspecies of rock-wallaby, which are distributed irregularly across much of the continent and offshore islands. Thirteen species are threatened, but most of these are receiving little or no monitoring, and no consensus exists on the best methods to monitor them.

We conducted a literature review to help identify key threats to the species; and a case study of wiliji, the West Kimberley rock-wallaby Petrogale lateralis kimberleyensis, to test whether estimates of rock- wallaby abundance and density can be generated from camera trap data without the need to recognise individuals. The literature review found that the key threats of predation, competition, fire and loss of genetic diversity frequently interact, and that rock-wallabies have contracted to isolated rocky range habitat since European arrival in response to exposure to new threats.

Our case study demonstrated the potential for unmarked spatial capture-recapture models using camera-trap data to monitor rock-wallabies and infer their population abundance.