Macropus agilisagile wallaby

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Geographic Range

The agile wallaby's range includes the coastal and tropical areas of Australia (Environment Australia, 2001), including northeast Western Australia, the northern portion of the Northern Territory, and the north and east areas of Queensland (Nowak, 1991). Also, there are limited populations in southern New Guinea (Columbus Zoo web site, 2001).

Habitat

Agile wallablies occur in a wide variety of habitats often depending on local environmental conditions. These habitats include open forests and their adjacent grasslands, regions near rivers and streams, and also floodplains (Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, 2001).

Physical Description

Agile wallabies are yellowish-brown and have a white cheek stripe. Also, there is usually a fairly distinct white stripe near the hip. Average head and body length ranges between 600 and 1,050 mm; average mass for males is 20 kg. and 12 kg for females. (Nowak, 1991)

  • Average mass
    16 kg
    35.24 lb
  • Average mass
    16000 g
    563.88 oz
    AnAge
  • Range length
    600 to 1050 mm
    23.62 to 41.34 in

Development

Directly after birth, the young wallaby travels to the mother's pouch. The "joey" stays within the pouch for an average of seven to eight months (Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, 2001). The joey does not usually emerge permanently and reach total independance for several more weeks. Weaning occurs until the young wallaby is one year old. (Nowak, 1991)

Reproduction

Births may occur at any time of the year, but usually peak between May and August. A single young is born per breeding season. (ThinkQuest Library, 2001) The adult sex ratio of populations is often female biased, due to higher male youth mortality rates (Stirrat, 2000).

  • Average number of offspring
    1
  • Average number of offspring
    1
    AnAge
  • Average gestation period
    30 days
  • Average gestation period
    29 days
    AnAge
  • Average weaning age
    10-12 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    12 to 14 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    12 to 14 months

Lifespan/Longevity

Expected lifespan in wild ranges between 11-14 years (Nowak, 1991).

Behavior

This species of wallabies organize into groups called "mobs," which are gregarious groups that are composed of many females that share resting and feeding areas (Nowak, 1991). They often live in groups of up to 10 individuals, but larger aggregations can occur when feeding (Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, 2001). They are mainly nocturnal. Their mean home range size varies with weather conditions: during drier conditions, their range increases (Stirrat, 2000).

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Agile wallabies are extremely flexible and opportunistic feeders. Their eating habits change depending on environmental conditions. During wet season, the wallabies eat a variety of native grasses, shrubs and bushes. Also, they may feed on some varieties of leaves and fruits (Stirrat, 2001). These wallabies have adapted well to extended periods of time without water. During these dry times, their feeding range usually extends and includes digging into soil for moisture-rich roots (Nowak, 1991).

Ecosystem Roles

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

In modern times, this species does not have any significant positive economic benefits. Previously, their meat was sometimes consumed and their fur was collected (Environment Australia, 2001).

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

In some regions, agile wallabies occur in numbers large enough to negatively influence both natural and agricultural areas. Their extended feeding groups can create large amounts of soil erosion in wild areas, and they are often considered by farmers as pests due to their crop destruction (Environment Australia, 2001).

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

In many areas, agile wallabies occur in large numbers and may even reach pest-like population levels. However, human habitat modification, extended periods of drought and over-hunting can combine for dramatic local population drops (Nowak, 1991).

Other Comments

Due in part to the wide variety of environmental conditions used by this species, agile wallabies have become one of the most common macropods in coastal tropical Austrailia (Nowak, 2001).

Contributors

Jonathan Burian (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ondrej Podlaha (editor), 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

delayed implantation

in mammals, a condition in which a fertilized egg reaches the uterus but delays its implantation in the uterine lining, sometimes for several months.

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.

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.

folivore

an animal that mainly eats leaves.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

frugivore

an animal that mainly eats fruit

granivore

an animal that mainly eats seeds

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

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.

nocturnal

active during the night

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.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sexual

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

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

References

"Columbus Zoo website" (On-line). Accessed October 9, 2001 at www.colszoo.org/conservation/newguiny/ppg.html.

"Environment Australia website" (On-line). Accessed October 9, 2001 at www.ea.gov.au/biodiversity.

"Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary web site" (On-line). Accessed October 9, 2001 at www. koala.net.

"ThinkQuest Library" (On-line). Accessed October 8, 2001 at www.library.thinkquest.org/j002868f/wallaby_pictures.htm.

Nowak, Ronald, 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Stirrat, Simon, 2000. The ecology and management of the agile wallaby, Macropus agilis.. PhD Northern Territory University dissertation submission.

Strahan, Ronald, 1995. The mammals of Australia. Chastwood, N.S.W.: Reed Books.