Homebodies live on the edge

Jun 20, 2006
Brush-tailed rock wallaby
Brush-tailed rock wallaby

Scientists have discovered that an endangered Australian rock wallaby loves home so much, it rarely ventures more than a few hundred metres away. The brush-tailed rock wallaby lives in remote pockets of The Great Dividing Range, through Victoria up to Queensland.

University of Queensland PhD student Stephanie Hazlitt, from UQ's School of Integrative Biology, has found that brush-tailed rock wallabies rarely move to other colonies even when neighbours are linked by suitable habitat.

Ms Hazlitt said female brush-tailed rock wallabies moved no more than a few hundred metres away from their homes among the boulders and scrub of the cliff face.

During the study of two wallaby colonies at Killarney and Crows Nest, between Warwick and Toowoomba, female wallabies strayed less than 200 metres and were creating their own families in their mum's backyard.

“It's unexpected for the brush-tailed rock wallaby to show such restricted movement over their lifetime,” Ms Hazlitt said.

“Other rock wallaby species are known to travel up to three kilometres in one day for water.”

The brush-tailed rock wallaby is endangered in New South Wales, critically endangered in Victoria and vulnerable in Queensland.

Ms Hazlitt said her research showed that the best way to conserve the rock wallaby was to protect habitats of current colonies and control feral pests.

“When you're trying to manage this species they're not going anywhere,” she said.

“Unfortunately this means that as soon as you fragment their habitat or introduce predators, you isolate colonies which make them highly susceptible to problems with inbreeding and even local extinction.”

Ms Hazlitt has been studying the brush-tailed rock-wallaby since 2002, when she came to Australia from Canada on an International Post Graduate Research Scholarship.

She has tracked, weighed, observed and recorded a range of vital statistics of the brush-tailed rock wallaby and used radio collars to track them and taken tissue samples to record their DNA and study gene flow.

The 33-year-old from West End is returning to Canada in July to pursue post-doctoral studies.

Her supervisor, UQ Associate Professor Anne Goldizen, started the detailed study of brush-tailed rock wallabies in 2000 which has been added to by her research students along the way.

Ms Hazlitt said it was vital for the brush-tailed rock wallabies to intimately know their environment to avoid predators such as wedge-tailed eagles, foxes and cats.

She said the rock wallabies should be monitored and conserved in Queensland, as they were in fairly healthy numbers compared to New South Wales and Victoria.

Source: University of Queensland

Explore further: Final pieces to the circadian clock puzzle found

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Prosecutors target credit card thieves overseas

9 hours ago

Criminals from around the world buy and sell stolen credit card information with ease in today's digital age. But if they commit their crime entirely outside the United States, they may be hard to prosecute.

'Grand Theft Auto V' to hit PS4 and Xbox One

11 hours ago

Rockstar Games on Friday announced that the latest installment of its crime-themed blockbuster video game "Grand Theft Auto" will hit PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles in November.

Tropical Storm Odile taken on by two NASA satellites

11 hours ago

As Tropical Storm Odile continues to affect Mexico's west coast and stir up dangerous surf, NASA's TRMM and Aqua satellites provided forecasters information on clouds and rainfall in the coast-hugging storm. ...

Recommended for you

Final pieces to the circadian clock puzzle found

5 hours ago

Researchers at the UNC School of Medicine have discovered how two genes – Period and Cryptochrome – keep the circadian clocks in all human cells in time and in proper rhythm with the 24-hour day, as well ...

Measuring modified protein structures

9 hours ago

Swiss researchers have developed a new approach to measure proteins with structures that change. This could enable new diagnostic tools for the early recognition of neurodegenerative diseases to be developed.

New insights in survival strategies of bacteria

9 hours ago

Bacteria are particularly ingenious when it comes to survival strategies. They often create a biofilm to protect themselves from a hostile environment, for example during treatment with antibiotics. A biofilm is a bacterial ...

Bangladesh meet begins to save endangered tigers

9 hours ago

Some 140 tiger experts and government officials from 20 countries met in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on Sunday to review progress towards an ambitious goal of doubling their number in the wild by 2022.

Study solves the bluetongue disease 'overwintering' mystery

Sep 12, 2014

The bluetongue virus, which causes a serious disease that costs the cattle and sheep industries in the United States an estimated $125 million annually, manages to survive the winter by reproducing in the insect that transmits ...

User comments : 0