A review of the conservation status of all Australia’s land and marine mammal species and sub-species since European arrival in Australia.
Type of Study:
Of Australia’s 273 endemic species of land mammal, almost half are now extinct (30 species, 11%), threatened (56 species, 21%) or near threatened (52 species, 15%). Mammal extinctions in Australia have occurred at roughly two per decade and this rate is continuing. The proportion of threatened or extinct non-endemic species is much lower than for endemic species. Fifty-five terrestrial mammal species have worsened in conservation status since 1992, and Australian mammal extinctions comprise 35% of recent global mammal extinctions. Higher rates of loss have been observed in rodent and marsupial species within the “critical weight range” of 35 g to 5.5 kg, and relatively less loss in bat species. Feral predators are among biggest threats to native terrestrial mammals, along with the loss of Indigenous management, habitat clearing, pastoralism, human exploitation, changed fire regimes, and disease. Marine mammals are influenced mainly by global threats (exploitation, bycatch in fisheries, marine pollution ect.). Substantial declines of marine mammals in Australian waters occurred historically for some exploited species, particularly larger whales, seals, and sea lions.
Woinarski J. C., Burbidge A. A. & Harrison P. L. (2015) Ongoing unraveling of a continental fauna: decline and extinction of Australian mammals since European settlement. PNAS. 112, 4531-40.