• Pademelons are a type of small, hopping marsupial in the same family as kangaroos. The dusky pademelon (Thylogale brunii) is native to the island of New Guinea and some minor surrounding islands (the Aru and Kai islands, which are part of Indonesia). Other species of pademelon can also be found on New Guinea as well as in Australia, including the island state of Tasmania, south of the main Australian landmass.

    Minimal information on the dusky pademelon exists, but it is considered to be mostly a solitary animal, only socializing for mating and occasionally while grazing. They are foragers, feeding on the undergrowth of lowland forests and in clearings, eating grass, leaves, shoots, and fruits. They have been observed to graze in clearings and at the forest’s edge under the cover of night. 

    Habitat fragmentation and hunting are major threats to the continued survival of pademelon populations in New Guinea and the neighboring islands. The dusky pademelon shares its native range with the culturally diverse indigenous people of New Guinea. Rice farming and logging are examples of some of the pressures on the landscape. Trapping of dusky pademelons has also threatened its population, due to the small marsupial’s reputation as being adaptable and attractive in captivity.  

    The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species notes that monitoring of populations and regulation of hunting of this species are needed to ensure the continued health and survival of the dusky pademelon in the wild. The IUCN lists the dusky pademelon as vulnerable.

    1. Why do Australia and New Guinea both share a diverse array of endemic plants and animals, including macropod marsupials, which includes kangaroos, wallabies, and pademelons?

      New Guinea has been connected to mainland Australia at different points in time, including as recent as 10,000 years ago when sea levels were much lower due to a global ice age. This connection gave wildlife a chance to migrate between the land areas. In fact, the Australian continent, which includes Tasmania and New Guinea, has been isolated and separated by water from other continents since it split off tectonically from Antarctica almost 96 million years ago. This means that the plants and animals there had almost 100 million years of isolated evolution. This was one of the main factors that resulted in such unique examples of endemic mammals and other plants and animals, including marsupials like the pademelon and monotremes, egg-laying mammals.

    2. Relatively little is known about the dusky pademelon’s population size and behaviors in the wild. What can be done to better understand the dusky pademelon?

      To better understand the dusky pademelon, more field research in New Guinea and the surrounding islands must be conducted, using scientific methods to estimate population size and scientific observation to better document dusky pademelon behavior so that we can work to ensure its health and survival in the wild.

    3. What two nations split the land area on New Guinea, and how might this affect the health of dusky pademelon and other pademelon populations?

      New Guinea is the second largest island in the world, after Greenland (if we exclude Australia as an island because of its size and continental status). Papua New Guinea is an independent nation state on the east side of the island of New Guinea. The west side of the island is administered by nearby Indonesia. Having habitat split between two different nations might lead to inconsistencies in land management and conservation policies.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    fragmentation Noun

    breaking up of large habitats into smaller, isolated chunks. Fragmentation is one of the main forms of habitat destruction.

    indigenous Adjective

    characteristic to or of a specific place.

    Encyclopedic Entry: indigenous
    marsupial Noun

    mammal that carries its young in a pouch on the mother's body.

    monotreme Noun

    type of mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young.