Long-footed Potoroo  |  

Potorous longipes

Status: Endangered on the EPBC Act list

The Long-footed Potoroo is a medium-sized, hopping marsupial with grey-brown fur on the back and pale grey fur underneath. It grows to an average body length of 40 cm, with a tail length of 32 cm. Adults males can weigh up to 2.2 kg and females up to 1.7 kg. It is silent except for a low kiss kiss sound made between mothers and young, or when under stress.

Government evidence of impact of climate change:

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  • Australian Government, Conservation Advice, Potorous longipes

    Habitat critical to the survival of the long footed potoroo may be broadly defined as areas containing the following attributes (noting that geographic areas containing habitat critical to survival needs to be defined by forest type on a regional basis) areas from 100 m to 1500 m above sea level in Vic or southern NSW with primary long footed potoroo habitat (identified above) areas of secondary long footed potoroo habitat adjoining or close to primary habitat sites on sheltered aspects with moist soils supporting a mixed species overstorey; and a dense understorey; with hypogeous fungi in the soil areas identified as refuges under future climate change scenarios and short or long term post fire refuges (i.e. unburnt habitat within or adjacent to recently burnt landscapes) that allow the species to persist; recover and recolonise burnt areas.
    Threats The major threats to the long footed potoroo are introduced species (predation and competition); inappropriate fire regimes and climate change.
    Changes to climate patterns are also likely to impact the hypogeous fungi which forms most of the diet of the long footed potoroo.
    Climatic factors such as rainfall and temperature have been shown to influence the abundance and diversity of hypogeous fungi and may affect the production of fruiting bodies (Claridge et al. 2000 Bougher Lebel 2001 Claridge et al. 2009).
    Climate change is likely to exacerbate other threats to the long footed potoroo; including altered fire regimes and predation.
    A warmer and drier climate is leading to an increase in the frequency; severity and scale of bushfires (CSIRO Bureau of Meteorology 2015); and an increase in the duration of fire seasons (Jalaludin Morgan 2021).
    Evidence suggests that these megafire events that are driven by climate change may burn heterogeneously and are especially severe in wet forest and woodland communities.
    Trend Static; potentially declining The intensity; frequency and scale of catastrophic bushfires will likely increase due to climate change.
    It is possible that the number of locations may decline due to climate change increasing the size and frequency of bushfires; but this is unclear.
    The long footed potoroo is also threatened by the impact of fire on hypogenous fungi.
    These Trend unknown altered fire regimes can create conditions that are Extent across the detrimental to the maintenance of native species. entire range Furthermore; weeds may directly impact food availability for the long footed potoroo.
    Habitat disturbance and modification Altered fire regimes Timing current The long footed potoroo is vulnerable to mortality Confidence during and after bushfires; due to its specialised suspected habitat; limited ability to flee; use of understorey vegetation as shelter and high susceptibility to Consequence introduced predators (Legge et al. 2020).
    Since European settlement; fire regimes in Australia have been significantly altered by a combination of land use changes and clearing for development and agriculture (Cresswell Murphy 2016).
    This change to fire frequency and extent threatens forest dwelling mammals in south and south eastern Australia (Lindenmayer 2015).
    Though long footed potoroo populations may remain stable under natural fire regimes; an increase in the intensity; size and frequency of fires is likely to have a large impact on the viability of these populations (Lumsden et al. 2013 DELWP 2021).
    Like bushfires; planned burning reduces vegetation cover; increases risk of predation; causes direct mortality and disrupts food availability and social structure (DSE 2009 McMullan Fisher et al. 2011).
    However; fuel reduction burning may also reduce the risk of extensive high intensity bushfire impacting on large areas of long footed potoroo habitat.
    Removal of canopy cover and undergrowth; lowered soil moisture and increased susceptibility to fire render forestry disturbed areas unsuitable for the species (Martin Temple Smith 2012 DEPI 2013).
    Post fire salvage timber harvesting after the 2019 bushfires may threaten fire impacted areas; as the impacts of fire are exacerbated by modification of post disturbance habitat; impairment of vegetation recovery and alteration of soil properties (Noss Lindenmayer 2006 Lindenmayer et al. 2008).
    Furthermore; changes to fire and drought conditions may also impact the nutritional value of hypogeous fungi; though it is unclear if fungi species consumed by long footed potoroos will undergo such changes.
    These regimes should include fire operation guidelines for suppression and readiness; buffers that prevent bushfire or planned burns from impacting habitat and food sources; a post fire introduced predator control program; a post fire population monitoring program; and sufficient funding to facilitate these projects.
    Invasive species (including threats from grazing; trampling; predation) Ensure immediate and intensified predator control within recently burnt areas of the species habitat; with ongoing post fire predator control as required to ensure recovery of the long footed potoroo.
    A subsequent post fire analysis indicated that the fires had a negative impact on the species; though they had similar occupancy at burnt and unburnt sites and it was not possible to quantify the size of the fire impact (Lumsden et al. 2012; cited in Lumsden et al. 2013).
    Furthermore; impacts of fire were extrapolated from surveys of the Great Dividing Range subpopulation (Lumsden et al. 2013); which suggests that impacts of known threats may be similar.
    Accounting for habitat suitability across sites; long footed potoroo occupancy decreased with increasing fire severity (Burns 2021).
    As such; catastrophic bushfires are increasingly likely to occur; which may reduce the ability of the species to recover from singular bushfire events; as declines in abundance and survival of medium sized marsupials associated with frequent; large; severe and homogenous fires (Chia et al. 2015 Hradsky 2020).
    Predation pressure by feral species will likely increase in fire affected areas; as dense vegetation has been reduced (Newsome et al. 1983 Catling 2001 McGregor et al. 2014; 2016 Leahy et al. 2015 Hradsky et al. 2017).
    Furthermore; changes to fire and drought conditions may also impact the nutritional value of hypogeous fungi; though it is unclear if fungi species consumed by long footed potoroos will undergo such changes.
    These changes are evidenced by the 2019 20 bushfires; which were precipitated by years of drought (DPI 2020).
    The population has likely been declining primarily due to bushfires; predation by invasive species (particularly European red foxes); and drought (See Table 1); though there is little information to quantify the impacts of these threats.
    Overall population decline The long footed potoroo has declined in abundance due to the catastrophic 2019 20 bushfires and ongoing threats from predation; drought and other bushfires (See Table 1).