Saving the fat-tailed dunnart

Research by PhD candidate, Emily Scicluna, has identified that Australia's fat-tailed dunnart population is in serious decline

Until recently, the fat-tailed dunnart, a small mouse-like marsupial, was thought to be widespread in Victoria. Thanks to research from PhD candidate, Emily Scicluna, we now know that they are in serious decline.

“I spent a year surveying a site that was presumed to be the largest population of fat-tailed dunnarts in Victoria, but found absolutely no trace of the species,” Emily explains.

“While they are referred to in scientific literature as abundant, the fat-tailed dunnarts had been disappearing steadily over many decades.”

“This species is the last small marsupial remaining in the critically endangered basalt grasslands, as all others have been driven to extinction. I have convinced policy makers and government to listen, and to care. As a result of my research, the fat-tailed dunnart is now listed as a threatened species in Victoria.”

Emily says her research highlights the importance of developing effective captive breeding and reintroduction techniques.

“The pace of wildlife extinction is accelerating globally, increasing the need for effective management of endangered species and populations. Although captive breeding and reintroduction are key approaches in conservation, post-release survival can be low.”

Emily, who completed her PhD this year, is already working in a role that will allow her to continue this important research.

“Before I had even finished my PhD, I was offered a position as Research Associate in Professor Andrew Pask's laboratory group at University of Melbourne. This allows me to continue my research in carnivorous marsupial captive management and wild conservation.”