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Today: Thursday, 18 Sep 2014

Genetics and ecology of the western barred bandicoot

Science Division Research Project : Genetics and ecology of the western barred bandicoot (Perameles bougainville)

Western barred bandicoot
Perameles bougainville

Project Context

The western barred bandicoot (Perameles bougainville) is commonly referred to by its Nyoongar name, marl. The marl is the smallest of the bandicoot family and an adult marl, weighing between 172 and 286 grams, with a combined head and body length of between 171 and 236 millimetres, would sit comfortably in your hand. Before European settlement, the marl was found as far north as Onslow and over much of the southern half of Australia-from the Western Australian Wheatbelt through the Nullarbor to the arid and semi-arid areas of South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. Like many other native animals, this species was severely affected by the arrival of the fox and feral cat. By the 1930s, it had disappeared from the mainland, and now occurs naturally on only two offshore Western Australian islands, Dorre and Bernier islands, about 60 kilometres west of Carnarvon.

Bernier and Dorre Islands are of extremely high conservation value because they have retained populations of several mammals that are extinct on the mainland. Recovery of those species relies on reintroductions but for successful outcomes it is vitally important to understand and manage genetic, ecological and disease characteristics that are consequent on the long isolation of island populations.

Project Aims

  • To achieve an understanding of the habitat requirements, habitat use, breeding biology and spatial organisation of the western barred bandicoot.
  • To assess genetic difference between populations of western barred bandicoots on Bernier and Dorre islands using PCR and DNA sequencing.
  • To assess the viability and fertility of progeny from matings between Dorre Island and Bernier Island individuals.
  • To investigate the conservation ramifications of disease issues in western barred bandicoots and to support veterinary investigations into pathological conditions.

Related Resources

Contact Information

Tony Friend