Conservation Biogeography of Modern Species of Australasian Marsupials

John C.Z. Woinarski, Diana O. Fisher

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The diverse and distinctive Australasian marsupial fauna has experienced considerable loss over the last 200 years. Extinctions of Australasian marsupials have been confined to Australian species (17 extinctions out of ca. 176 Australian marsupial species), and this proportionate loss (ca. 10%) is far higher than for extinct mammals globally over the same period (1.4%). Many extinct Australian marsupials were formerly abundant and widespread. About 40% of Australian marsupials are now threatened. There have been some notable successes with translocations of threatened marsupials that are susceptible to introduced predators. Many Australian marsupials are declining, and the outlook for some is bleak. The pattern of decline in Australian marsupials is broadly similar to that of Australia’s native rodents. Knowledge of the marsupial faunas of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia is relatively poor. Both regions have high endemism. There are 96 species of marsupials on the main island of New Guinea and surrounding small islands, and 15 species in Wallacea (the islands of Indonesia and East Timor east of Wallace’s line) including 5 shared with New Guinea. Although none are listed as Extinct, two Critically Endangered marsupials are flagged “possibly extinct.” Most threatened New Guinean and Wallacean species follow the globally typical pattern of high vulnerability in small-range mammals with specialist habitats. The major threats to marsupials of New Guinea and Indonesia are habitat loss, hunting, and low levels of awareness and investment in conservation and research. Many Australasian marsupial species – particularly mountain top endemics – are increasingly threatened by climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAmerican and Australasian Marsupials
Subtitle of host publicationAn Evolutionary, Biogeographical, and Ecological Approach
Number of pages48
ISBN (Electronic)9783031084195
ISBN (Print)9783031084188
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023

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