Dorcopsis atratablack dorcopsis

Last updated:

Geographic Range

New Guinea; off the southeastern Papau coast of New Guinea on the Goodenough Islands.

Habitat

These wallabies generally have a fairly restricted range, but within their area they occupy a wide variety of niches including the moist forests of lowland and montane rain forest and some grasslands. On Goodenough Island, they live in oak forests at medium elevations in the mountains but may also come down to sea level. The general altitudinal range is between 900 and 1,800 m. above sea level.

Physical Description

The fur of black forest-wallabies is blackish on the dorsal part of their body and dark brown on the ventral side. The tail is haired except for the terminal half, where it is naked. The wallabie's nose is large, broad, and naked and its ears are small and rounded. The hind limbs and feet are small, while the front limbs are well-developed and robust. Unlike most other wallaby species, the black forest-wallaby is not specialized for jumping. Females of the species have four mammae and a pouch that opens forward. The head and body length is between 28.9 and 39.2 inches. The tail length is usually between 11.2 and 15.6 inches and an adult can weigh between 1.8 and 2.3 kg.

  • Range mass
    1.8 to 2.3 kg
    3.96 to 5.07 lb

Reproduction

Females usually give birth to one young at a time. They also have four mammae and a well-developed pouch.

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

Behavior

Black forest-wallabies are presumed to be nocturnal, but there is also some evidence that they move around the dense forest during the day.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Dorcopsis atrata is an herbivorous browser feeding mostly on soft vegetation, including leaves, roots, grasses and fruit. The incisors are used to pick up food, then it is then transferred to the hands so it can be processed by the premolars on the side of the mouth.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Black forest-wallabies are considered a valuable food animal and are eaten by natives of New Guinea islands.

Conservation Status

These wallabies are susceptible to hunting and a food source to native peoples. Because of their restricted range, they are also very susceptible to habitat destruction. Due to these factors, they are considered a threatened species and are classified as rare.

Other Comments

It has been suggested that black forest-wallabies represent a transitional form between tree kangaroos and other macropodids.

Contributors

Carmen Borsa (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Australian

Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

rainforest

rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

tactile

uses touch to communicate

References

Burton, J., B. Pearson. 1987. Rare Mammals of the World. Lexington, Mass.: The Stephen Greene Press.

Dahl, 1998. "U.N. System-wide Earthwatch" (On-line). Accessed November 10, 1999 at http://www.unep.ch/islands/IHD.htm.

Hume, I. 1999. Marsupial Nutrition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nowak, R. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University Press.

Stonehouse, B., D. Gilmore. 1977. Biology of Marsupials. Baltimore, Maryland: University Park Press.