Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby  |  

Petrogale penicillata

Status: Vulnerable on the EPBC Act list

The Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby is a medium-sized marsupial. Adults weigh 6–11 kg for males and 5–8 kg for females, with a head-body length of 53–59 cm for males and 51–57 cm for females, and tail length of 51–70 cm for males and 50–63 cm for females. Colouration is generally dull brown above, tending to reddish-brown on the rump, grey on the neck and shoulders, with lighter colouration underneath and darker limbs. The head is darker, with a distinct pale stripe from the upper jaw through the cheek to the base of the ears. Juveniles are more distinctly marked than adults. The posterior third of the tail is bushy. There are slight morphological variations in northern subpopulations, which have lighter colouration and less prominent tail brush than southern subpopulations.

Government evidence of impact of climate change:

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  • Australian Government, Conservation Advice, Petrogale penicillata

    The main factor that makes the species eligible for listing in the Vulnerable category is substantial population decline; due to climate change; invasive species; habitat loss; disturbance or modification and disease.
    Climate change Inappropriate fire Timing current Fires can cause mortality of medium sized marsupials; regimes Confidence known including wallabies; directly via high temperatures; toxic effects of smoke and oxygen depletion (Whelan et Consequence major al. 2002) or indirectly via starvation and predation; Trend increasing linked to loss of suitable habitat; increased predator Extent across the entire abundance and activity (McGregor et al. 2014 Leahy et range al. 2016 Hradsky et al. 2017).
    Such catastrophic bushfires are increasingly likely to occur due to climate change (CSIRO Bureau of Meteorology 2015).
    Continue to explore the potential impacts of climate change on the long term survival prospects of the species; due to altered temperatures; rainfall patterns; bushfires; environmental stressors and diseases.
    The species is threatened by several fire related threats; including high severity fires; fire drought interactions and fire predator interactions.
    In particular; grassy weeds can increase fuel Trend increasing load and alter fire regimes (Milberg Lamont 1995 Extent across the entire Setterfield et al. 2013).
    These altered fire regimes can range create conditions that are detrimental to the maintenance of native species and favourable to the establishment and spread of weeds (D’Antonio Vitousek 1992 Grigulis et al. 2005).
    Fire intensity and severity varied across the bushfire extent; with many patches burning at extreme intensity and severity while others remained unburnt (DPIE 2020).
    The Brush tailed Rock wallaby is considered less susceptible to direct mortality from fire than some other mammal species; because it has access to rocky shelters that can protect animals from radiant heat; however increased predation and lack of food after fires may cause additional mortality.
    Protect habitat from fire and any proposal for prescribed burns in the vicinity must consider potential impacts on food availability and predator activity relative to the likelihood that prescribed burns will provide protection from bush fires.
    The species is threatened by several fire related threats; including high severity fires; fire drought interactions and fire predator interactions.
    Drought has been implicated in the decline of Trend increasing Petrogale xanthopus (Yellow footed Rock wallaby) in Extent across the entire western NSW (Lim et al. 1992 Sharpe 1999). range Additionally; Petrogale lateralis (Black footed Rock wallaby) and Allied Rock wallaby are known to significantly decline in abundance following drought (Kinnear et al. 1988 Spencer 1991).
    Accordingly; the cumulative impacts of predation and drought may elevate the risk of local extinction (DECC 2008).