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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

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Maximum longevity: 15.3 years (captivity)
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Behavior

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Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical

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Irwin, M. 2000. "Potorous longipes" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Potorous_longipes.html
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Mark Irwin, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Conservation Status

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Populations are threatened by habitat loss or fragmentation caused by logging and road construction associated with logging. Wildfire and fuel-reduction burning practices also threaten populations. Introduced predators, including the Red Fox, Dingo, and feral Dog, are important causes of mortality of the Long-footed Potoroo. Conservation efforts are being made by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment in Australia. These efforts include careful management in National Parks (2 known populations in Snowy River National Park), establishment of special management areas, predator control in management areas, long-term monitoring of populations, and public education about the Long-footed Potoroo.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: endangered

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Irwin, M. 2000. "Potorous longipes" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Potorous_longipes.html
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Mark Irwin, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Trophic Strategy

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Obligate fungivore, feeding on the fruiting bodies of more than 30 species of underground fungi, which grow in association with tree roots. Occasionally insects, seeds, and other plant materials become a part of the diet, which is 80% fungi. Feeding locations are easily identified by small, cone-shaped holes, dug in search of fungi.

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Irwin, M. 2000. "Potorous longipes" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Potorous_longipes.html
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Mark Irwin, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Distribution

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Only found in the forests of south-eastern Australia. Specifically, forests of East Gippsland, north-eastern Victoria south of Mount Buffalo, and south-eastern New South Wales.

Biogeographic Regions: australian (Native )

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Irwin, M. 2000. "Potorous longipes" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Potorous_longipes.html
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Mark Irwin, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Habitat

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Mostly found in a range of predominantly "wetter" forest types, from wet sclerophyll forests at an altitude of 800m to lowland sclerophyll forests and warm temperate rainforest at 150m. Limited to areas with high soil moisture content throughout the year (because of ecology of food items) and areas with densely vegetated locations for shelter. Most Long-footed Potoroos are found in sites with an average annual rainfall of 1100 to 1200mm (43 to 47in).

Terrestrial Biomes: forest

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Irwin, M. 2000. "Potorous longipes" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Potorous_longipes.html
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Mark Irwin, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Life Expectancy

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Average lifespan
Status: captivity:
15.3 years.

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Irwin, M. 2000. "Potorous longipes" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Potorous_longipes.html
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Mark Irwin, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Morphology

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Potoroos are small kangaroos also called "rat-kangaroos." Males are most often heavier than females. About the size of a rabbit (700 mm, of which 300 mm is the tail), Potorous longipes can be distinguished from other potoroos by its long back feet and toes. Members of the species also have strong front feet and claws. The fur is dense, with a soft grey-brown color that is paler on the stomach and feet.

Range mass: 1 to 2 kg.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

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Irwin, M. 2000. "Potorous longipes" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Potorous_longipes.html
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Mark Irwin, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Reproduction

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Most young are born in the winter, spring, and early summer, but the Long-footed Potoroo likely breeds throughout the year. There can be several litters per year (1 young per litter), with the average being 2.5 to 3 young per year. Young remain in the pouch for 140 to 150 days.

Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual

Average gestation period: 38 days.

Average number of offspring: 1.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female:
755 days.

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Irwin, M. 2000. "Potorous longipes" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Potorous_longipes.html
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Mark Irwin, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Biology

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The long-footed potoroo is a shy, mostly nocturnal species that spends the day sleeping in a simple nest scraped in the ground in a sheltered location (4). Underground, fruiting fungi ordinarily form 90 percent of the diet during most of the year, although fruits and other plant material, as well as some litter and soils-dwelling invertebrates are also eaten (2). All of the underground fruiting fungi that the long-footed potoroo eats share a special symbiotic relationship with the trees of the forest, termed a mycorrhiza. Within this relationship, the fungus lives on the roots of the host plant, supplying nutrients and helping the plant to resist disease. In return, the fungus received energy, in the form of carbohydrates, from the plant. Long-footed potoroos play a vital role in dispersing the spores of the underground fruiting fungi, the spores of which travel intact through the digestive tract of the animal and are returned to the forest in faecal pellets. In doing so, the long-footed potoroo plays an essential role in keeping the forest healthy (4) (6). Breeding takes place throughout the year. Females produce a single young after a gestation period of around 38 days (2). In captivity, the young stays in the mother's pouch for 140 to 150 days and reaches sexual maturity at two years of age (2).
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Conservation

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Information on this elusive rare species is sparse, and so further studies into habitat selection, breeding, dispersal, diet and the threats affecting this species are needed in order to effectively conserve it (5). A small breeding captive population was held at Healesville Sanctuary through the 1980s and 1990s, which allowed research on the behaviour and reproduction of the species, otherwise difficult to observe in the wild (3). The ongoing status of the captive colony is unclear, as the last remaining animal died recently (6). In Victoria, on State Forest tenure, the species is protected in a series of Special Management Areas, in which logging is either prevented or monitored and controlled burning reduced (2) (6). Wild dog and red fox control is undertaken, to varying degrees, across much of the range of the long-footed potoroo. Feral cat control is undertaken on a more limited basis (3). Special Management Areas for long-footed potoroos in Victoria will benefit a wide range of other native species, including the marsupial carnivore the spotted-tailed quoll (Dasyurus maculatus), which is also threatened (3).
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Description

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The shy and elusive long-footed potoroo is one of the rarest marsupial mammals in Australia (3). Potoroos are essentially small kangaroos, commonly referred to as rat-kangaroos. The long-footed potoroo is around the size of a hare and has a dense coat of soft greyish-brown fur that becomes paler on the belly and feet. As the common name suggests, this species can be distinguished from the long-nosed potoroo by its long hind feet, which bear long toes tipped with strong claws (4). A low kiss kiss vocalisation is produced when individuals are stressed, or between mothers and their offspring (2).
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Habitat

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The long-footed potoroo inhabits a range of forest types, from montane forests at 1,000 meters altitude, to lowland forests at 150 meters (5). It has also been recorded in warm temperate rainforest (2). It requires an abundant supply of fungi that fruit underground (hypogeous fungi or native truffles), which form a key part of the diet and which in turn need soils with high levels of moisture. Dense vegetation cover is also an important feature of the habitat of the long-footed potoroo, as it provides protection and shelter from predators (2) (5).
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Range

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This species was discovered less than 30 years ago and so its historical range is poorly understood (5). It is endemic to Australia and has a very restricted range. The main populations are limited to Victoria, where it is found in the Barry Mountains in the north-east of the State and East Gippsland in the far east. A smaller population occurs north of the Victorian border in the south-east forests of New South Wales (2).
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Status

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Classified as Endangered (EN) by the IUCN Red List 2006 (1). Listed as an Endangered Species on Schedule 1 of the New South Wales Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (2), an Endangered Species under the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and Endangered by the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.
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Threats

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Introduced predators including the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), feral cat (Felis cattus) and wild dog (Canis lupus familiaris) represent the most serious threat to the long-footed potoroo; their impact is thought to be greater in disturbed habitats where roads have been built, as they seem to move along roads and tracks and hunt in areas around these features (3). In Victoria, about half of the range of the long-footed potoroo occurs in State Forest which is used for multiple purposes, including intensive logging. In such landscapes, logging prescriptions have been modified to lessen the impact on potoroos, including higher degrees of habitat retention. In New South Wales, nearly all known habitat for the species occurs in National Park (6). Wildfires and periodic fuel-reduction burning have a largely unknown effect on the species and the fungi on which the potoroo depends for food, although in the short term loss of ground cover due to fire may be detrimental to survival (3). The long-footed potoroo occurs in small, highly isolated populations, so genetic problems resulting from inbreeding are a possibility. Moreover, small populations are at great risk of extinction caused by chance events, such as fire, drought, or disease (3).
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Long-footed potoroo

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The long-footed potoroo (Potorous longipes) is a small marsupial found in southeastern Australia, restricted to an area around the coastal border between New South Wales and Victoria. It was first recorded in 1967 when an adult male was caught in a dog trap in the forest southwest of Bonang, Victoria.[3] It is classified as vulnerable.[1]

P. longipes is the largest species of Potorous, resembling the long-nosed potoroo, Potorous tridactylus. It is a solitary, nocturnal creature, feeding on fungi, vegetation, and small invertebrates. It differs from P. tridactylus in its larger feet and longer tail.[4]

Current threats to the species include predation by introduced feral cats and foxes, and loss of habitat from logging within its limited range.

Taxonomy

The scientific name of the animal commonly known as the long-footed potoroo is Potorous longipes. Potoroo is the common name for all of the three other species in the genus Potorous, Gilbert's potoroo, P. gilbertii, the broad-faced potoroo, P. platyops, and long-nosed potoroo, P. tridactylus.[5] P. longipes is the largest potoroo, and most resembles P. tridactylus. The species was first recorded in 1967 in the East Gippsland region of Victoria, Australia.[6] The formal description was published in 1980.[2] Remains of the long-footed potoroo were found in predator droppings in 1986.[7]

Description and anatomy

The long-footed potoroo is a very rare marsupial only found in Australia. A potoroo is a small type of kangaroo-like marsupial.[5] It is about the size of a rabbit and its common name suggests, it has very long hind feet. These feet have long toes with very strong claws.[8] The species is the largest potoroos with males weighing up to 2.3 kg (5.1 lb) and females 1.4 kg (3.1 lb). The entire body length is 380–415 mm (15.0–16.3 in). The tail can be between 315 and 325 mm (12.4 and 12.8 in) in length, while the hind foot is 103–114 mm (4.1–4.5 in). This animal can be differentiated from other potoroos by its long back feet,[5] which are the same length relative to its head. It has an extra footpad called the hallcual pad.[6] The long-footed potoroo hops in a similar fashion to a kangaroo, yet can use its tail to grasp objects.[9] It has a soft, dense coat, with grayish-brown fur that slowly fades into a lighter color on the feet and belly.[8]

Behavior and life history

Habitat and distribution

The long-footed potoroo lives in a range of montane forests. It has also been found in the warmer temperate rainforest. This species lives where the soil is constantly moist.[7] It spends its day time sleeping in a nest on the ground in a hidden, sheltered area.[8] An essential feature of the long-footed potoroo's habitat is the dense vegetation cover that supplies protection and shelter from predators. This species was not known to science until 1967, so historically, it is inadequately understood. It has a very restricted area where it lives. The main populations can be found in Victoria, in the Barry Mountains, which is in the northeast part of the state, and in the East Gippsland, located in the far east. A smaller population lives north of the Victorian border in the south-east forest of New South Wales.[1]

Population

The long-footed potoroo is very difficult to find in the wild due to its shy behavior. The National Recovery Plan states that a few thousand individuals are unlikely to remain in the wild as of now; only a few hundred long-footed potoroosmay survive.[1]

Diet

Long-footed potoroos' diet normally consists of up to 91% of fruiting fungi found under ground.[1] They are known to consume up to 58 different species of fungi as part of their diet.[10] These underground fungi are also called sporocarps or truffles. If necessary, they may also eat fruits, plant material, and soil-dwelling invertebrates. Their jaws have shearing premolars and molars that are rounded at the top, indicating a varied diet is consumed.[9]

The long-footed potoroo plays a part in the symbiotic relationship between the fungi (Ectomycorrhizae) and the trees. It helps this relationship by releasing the spores of the fruiting fungi through its fecal material. In turn, this helps keep the forest healthy, benefiting both the fungi and the forest.[8] The species of fungi that are eaten in the winter and summer are similar, but the amount of each type of fungal species varies between seasons and years.[7] It has a sacculated fore stomach in which bacterial fermentation occurs. This aids in the breakdown of fungal cell walls.[9]

Behavior/communication

The long-footed potoroo is very shy and elusive. It can produce a vocalization, a low kiss kiss sound when stressed or to communicate to its offspring.[8] Although the long-footed potoroo is a nocturnal species, it may partake in early-morning basking in the sun.[11] The long-footed potoroo is constantly hidden from plain sight. Under normal conditions, males are not aggressive. Nevertheless, if provoked, they can become aggressive in defending their home.[11]

Mating, reproduction, and parental care

Breeding can occur all year, yet most young are born in the winter, spring, and early summer. Higher rainfall and deep, moist soil full of leaf litter provides a stable food supply. In turn, these periods of good conditions allows breeding to occur easily.[7] When a female is in estrus, nearby males fight with one another, until dominance is established.[11] The species has a monogamous mating system.[12] The gestation period is around 38 days. In captivity, the offspring stay in the mother's pouch for 140 to 150 days. The offspring then reaches sexual maturity around 2 years old.[8] Females can give birth up to three young per year, though one or two young is most commonly seen.[5] After the young leave the pouch, they can stay with their mothers up to 20 weeks until they become independent. They stay in the mother's territory up to 12 months before leaving.[7] The long-footed potoroo exhibits postpartum oestrus and embryonic diapauses.[11]

Movement patterns

The long-footed potoroo moves to different parts of its territory due to the distribution of fungi. Thus seasonally, their territory boundaries change following the distribution of truffles. Males use a larger home range area than females use. The species is territorial and the territories of mated pairs can overlap with each other, but not with other pairs. The home range of the long-footed potoroo is between 22 and 60 ha in East Gippsland and between 14 and 23 ha in north-eastern Victoria.[7]

Conservation issues

Status

As of 2006, the long-footed potoroo has been classified as endangered (EN) by the IUCN Red List. According to the IUCN Red List, the long-footed potoroo is considered endangered because its area of occurrence is less than 5,000 km2. The dispersed area where the animal is found is most likely in a decline of the number of individuals due to predators and competition for food from introduced pigs.[1] It is listed as an endangered species on schedule 1 of the New South Wales Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995. It is also considered an endangered species under the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, and as endangered by the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.[8]

Threats

Their most serious predators include the red fox, feral cats, and wild dogs, all invasive species. Their habitat is greatly disturbed due to building roads, thus they have seemed to move along these roads and forage for food in these areas. This also causes a threat from being hit with a motor vehicle. In Victoria, the State Forest has about half of the long-footed potoroo population. Introduced pigs may be a large competitor for the long-footed potoroo's specialized diet.[1]

Conservation plans

Information on this rare species is spotty. Thus, to conserve it effectively, further studies on its way of life and habitat need to be conducted. Research was performed on a small captive population that was able to breed in the 1980s and 1990s at the Healesville Sanctuary.[8] Small steps have been taken to increase the population of long-footed potoroo and to protect it from extinction. In the State Forest of Victoria, the long-footed potoroo is protected through special areas in which logging is monitored or prevented and burning of the forest has been reduced.[1] Their natural predators such as the wild dogs, red fox and feral cats have also been put under control. This will allow the long-footed potoroo to reclaim their habitat and allow their numbers to rise again. Conservation plans such as these will not only benefit the long-footed potoroo, but will also be beneficial to other threatened animal species in this area.[8]

2019–2020 Australian bushfires

Over 82% of its habitat was burnt during the 2019-2020 Australian bushfires.[13]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Woinarski, J.; Burbidge, A.A. (2020). "Potorous longipes". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2020: e.T18102A166498043. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-1.RLTS.T18102A166498043.en. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b Seebeck, J.H.; Johnston, P.G. (1980). "Potorous longipes (Marsupialia:Macropodidae); a New Species from Easter Victoria". Australian Journal of Zoology. 28 (1): 119. doi:10.1071/ZO9800119.
  3. ^ Karl Shuker; Gerald Durrell (1993). Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the Twentieth Century. HarperCollins Publishers. p. 83. ISBN 0-00-219943-2.
  4. ^ Menkhorst, Peter (2001). A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia. Oxford University Press. p. 100.
  5. ^ a b c d "Long-footed Potoroo (Potorous longipes)". EDGE: Evolutionary Distinct &Globally Endangered. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  6. ^ a b Richardson, Ken (2012). Australia's amazing kangaroos : their conservation, unique biology, and coexistence with humans. Collington, VIC: CSIRO Pub. p. 36. ISBN 9780643097391. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Long-footed Potoroo (Potorous longipes) Recovery Plan". Australian Government: Department of the Environment. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Claridge, Andrew. "Long-footed potoroo (Potorous longipes)". Arkive. Archived from the original on 2014-12-14. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  9. ^ a b c Tyndale-Biscoe, Hugh (2004). Life of marsupials (New ed.). Collingwood, Vic.: CSIRO. p. 291. ISBN 0643062572. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  10. ^ Jackson, Stephen; Vernes, Karl (2010). Kangaroo : portrait of an extraordinary marsupial. Crows Nest, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin. p. 127. ISBN 9781741759037.
  11. ^ a b c d Dickman, Ronald M. Nowak ; introduction by Christopher R. (2005). Walker's marsupials of the world. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 150. ISBN 9780801882111.
  12. ^ Coulson, Graeme; Eldridge, Mark, eds. (2010). Macropods : the biology of kangaroos, wallabies, and rat-kangaroos. Collingwood, VIC, Australia: CSIRO Pub. p. 72. ISBN 9780643096622. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  13. ^ Ward, Michelle; Tulloch, Ayesha I. T.; Radford, James Q.; Williams, Brooke A.; Reside, April E.; Macdonald, Stewart L.; Mayfield, Helen J.; Maron, Martine; Possingham, Hugh P.; Vine, Samantha J.; O’Connor, James L. (2020-07-20). "Impact of 2019–2020 mega-fires on Australian fauna habitat". Nature Ecology & Evolution. 4 (10): 1321–1326. doi:10.1038/s41559-020-1251-1. ISSN 2397-334X. PMID 32690905. S2CID 220657021.

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Long-footed potoroo: Brief Summary

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The long-footed potoroo (Potorous longipes) is a small marsupial found in southeastern Australia, restricted to an area around the coastal border between New South Wales and Victoria. It was first recorded in 1967 when an adult male was caught in a dog trap in the forest southwest of Bonang, Victoria. It is classified as vulnerable.

P. longipes is the largest species of Potorous, resembling the long-nosed potoroo, Potorous tridactylus. It is a solitary, nocturnal creature, feeding on fungi, vegetation, and small invertebrates. It differs from P. tridactylus in its larger feet and longer tail.

Current threats to the species include predation by introduced feral cats and foxes, and loss of habitat from logging within its limited range.

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