Macropus parmaParma wallaby

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Geographic Range

Macropus parma, commonly known as Parma wallabies and white-throated wallabies, is native to the Great Dividing Range between the Gibraltar Range and the Watagan Mountains, in Eastern Australia. Within Australia, this species is restricted to New South Wales. They were introduced to Kawau Island, New Zealand in 1965. ("Wallabies and kangaroos", 2003; Maynes, 1995; Ride, 1970)

Habitat

Macropus parma is found in the Great Dividing Range between elevations of 0 to 900 m. Habitats occupied are wet, sclerophyll forests with thick undergrowth and grassy openings. Parma wallabies are also occasionally found in dry, eucalypt forests and in other, wet, tropical habitats. ("Great Dividing Range", 2005; "Wallabies and kangaroos", 2003; Campbell and Reece, 2002)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 900 m
    0.00 to 2952.76 ft
  • Average elevation
    300 m
    984.25 ft

Physical Description

Parma wallabies have a white throat and chest and a white stripe on the cheeks. The gray-brown back and shoulders, with a dark dorsal stripe extending to mid-back, are also defining features. Males are generally larger. Males usually measure 482 to 528 mm, while females range from 447 to 527 mm. Tail length in males is from 489 to 544 mm, and in females tail length is from 405 to 507 mm. Males weigh from 4.1 to 5.9 kg and females weigh from 3.2 to 4.8 kg. (Hume, 1999; Maynes, 1995; "Wallabies and kangaroos", 2003; Hume, 1999; Marlow, 1965; Maynes, 1995)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • Range mass
    3.2 to 5.9 kg
    7.05 to 13.00 lb
  • Range length
    852 to 1072 mm
    33.54 to 42.20 in
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    257 kJ/d cm3.O2/g/hr

Reproduction

Parma wallabies are generally promiscuous and there is no evidence of mate guarding. Courtship behavior generally begins with sexual confirmation by the male pawing the female’s buttocks. Mounting and copulation follow. Usually, prior to copulation, a male will place the female’s head upon his chest using his forepaws. During these interactions, there are characteristic vocalizations by the male that serve to rouse the female, and hisses by the females that function in warning. There is also evidence that production of olfactory and auditory signals factor into female mate choice. ("Wallabies and kangaroos", 2003; Ord, et al., 1989)

Parma wallabies breed between March and July, producing one offspring per breeding season. The gestation period is around 35 days. The newborn will remain in the mother’s pouch. Although, after 30 weeks it will be mature enough to leave the pouch, the young will continue to nurse for 10 months. Females reach sexual maturity around 16 months, while males reach maturity between 20-24 months. Starting at sexual maturity, female wallabies are in estrus one day every 30 days. Two days after giving birth there is a post-partum estrous. The newly fertilized embryo develops to the blastocyst stage and then stops (a phenomenon called embryonic diapause). This blastocyst will begin to develop again after the already conceived joey is able to leave the pouch, at around 30 weeks old. At this point the joey is called a “joey-at-heel”. This “joey-at-heel” is still able to put its head inside the pouch to nurse, even after the other offspring has been born and is attached to a nipple in the pouch. ("Wallabies and kangaroos", 2003; Maynes, 1995)

  • Breeding interval
    Parma wallabies breed twice yearly.
  • Breeding season
    Parma wallabies breed between March and July.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 (high)
  • Average number of offspring
    1
    AnAge
  • Range gestation period
    34 to 35 days
  • Range weaning age
    40 to 44 weeks
  • Range time to independence
    40 to 44 weeks
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    16 (high) months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    20 to 24 months

Prior to birth, females will clean their pouch by scrupulously licking it. During birth female wallabies remain still, with their tails tucked between their legs, until the offspring has safely attached to the female teat, within the pouch. After the joey-at-heel leaves the pouch, the mother is able to produce two different types of milk with different, appropriate nutrient levels corresponding with each offspring’s developmental needs. After 44 weeks the joey is completely independent of the female parent. Since Parma wallabies are solitary creatures, the only interactions between males and females are for mating. Males do not assist in caring for young. (Broleman, 2002; Maynes, 1995)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

In the wild, the expected lifespan of M. parma is 6 to 8 years. In captivity, their expected lifespan is 11 to 15 years. ("Parma Wallaby: Macropus parma", 2002)

  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    6 to 8 years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: captivity
    11 to 15 years

Behavior

Generally, M. parma are widely dispersed throughout their habitat, and solitary. There is very little social organization; different ages and genders interact equally and there is no protection of feeding ranges. Parma wallabies are nocturnal, although some crepuscular activity has been observed. Parma wallabies are saltatorial; therefore, their hind legs are very well developed and powerful. At slow speeds, M. parma individuals will use their tail as a fifth leg for locomotion and balance. ("Wallabies and kangaroos", 2003; Maynes, 1995)

Home Range

Little research has been done on home ranges in M. parma. Ranges overlap among individuals and there is little interspecific aggression.

Communication and Perception

Parma wallabies communicate visually, by quivering, tail wagging, and foot stomping as signs of agression. They perceive chemical signs, particularly scent as communication during mating. Parma wallabies also communicate with mates acoustically by clucking, coughing, and hissing as a sign of agression. (Coulson, 1989)

Food Habits

Parma wallabies are herbivores that feed primarily on reedy grasses and herbaceous plant parts. (Maynes, 1995; "Wallabies and kangaroos", 2003; Maynes, 1995)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • wood, bark, or stems

Predation

Predators include Canis lupus dingo, Vulpes vulpes, and humans, all introduced species in Australia. Native predators are likely to be large snakes and birds of prey, which would prey on young joeys. Parma wallabies have cryptic coloration, which allows them to blend in with reedy grasses in their environment. Their large size as adults would protect them from most native predators. ("NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service", 2005)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Dingos (Canis lupus dingo), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), and humans all use M. parma as prey. Also, M. parma is a small grazer and therefore acts as a predator towards small shrubs and plants in its environment. ("Wallabies and kangaroos", 2003; Marlow, 1965; Maynes, 1995)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

While many kangaroos and wallabies are hunted for meat and fur, Parma wallabies are rare and not frequently hunted. ("Wallabies and kangaroos", 2003; "NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service", 2005)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Macropus parma is considered a nuisance to forestry on Kawau Island, where they were introduced. ("Wallabies and kangaroos", 2003)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

Macropus parma is considered near threatened/low risk by most sources. The IUCN lists the species as low risk. However, the Department of Environment and Conservation in New South Wales, acknowledges the species as being near threatened because population numbers are low and because of their restricted range. This species was once thought to be extinct as a result of hunting, however individuals were rediscovered in 1965 on Kawau Island and then in 1967 on the Australian mainland. ("Wallabies and kangaroos", 2003; "NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service", 2005)

Contributors

Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Ashley Boehmke (author), Kalamazoo College, Ann Fraser (editor, instructor), Kalamazoo College.

Glossary

Australian

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

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

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

crepuscular

active at dawn and dusk

cryptic

having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

embryonic diapause

At about the time a female gives birth (e.g. in most kangaroo species), she also becomes receptive and mates. Embryos produced at this mating develop only as far as a hollow ball of cells (the blastocyst) and then become quiescent, entering a state of suspended animation or embryonic diapause. The hormonal signal (prolactin) which blocks further development of the blastocyst is produced in response to the sucking stimulus from the young in the pouch. When sucking decreases as the young begins to eat other food and to leave the pouch, or if the young is lost from the pouch, the quiescent blastocyst resumes development, the embryo is born, and the cycle begins again. (Macdonald 1984)

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.

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

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

polygynandrous

the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.

saltatorial

specialized for leaping or bounding locomotion; jumps or hops.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

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

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

visual

uses sight to communicate

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

References

2005. "Great Dividing Range" (On-line). Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed November 20, 2005 at http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9037851.

Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW). 2005. "NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service" (On-line). Kangaroos and wallabies. Accessed October 13, 2005 at http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/npws.nsf/Content/Kangaroos+and+wallabies.

2002. "Parma Wallaby: Macropus parma" (On-line). Accessed October 13, 2005 at http://www.krazyworld.com/animals-parma-wallaby.htm.

2003. Wallabies and kangaroos. Pp. 83-90, 94-95 in M Hutchins, D Kleiman, V Geist, M McDade, eds. Grizmek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol. 13: Mammals II, 2nd Edition. Farmington Hills, Mi: Gale Group.

Broleman, J. 2002. "Kangaroos and Wallabies" (On-line). Accessed October 12, 2005 at http://www.crystalinks.com/kangaroos.html.

Campbell, N., J. Reece. 2002. Biology. San Francisco, CA: Benjamin Cummings.

Coulson, G. 1989. Repertoires of social behavior in the Macropodoidae. New South Wales, Australia: Surray Beatty & Sons Pty Limited.

Hume, I. 1999. Marsupial Nutrition. Cambridge, United Kingdom: The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge. Accessed October 13, 2005 at http://assets.cambridge.org/052159/4065/sample/0521594065web.pdf.

Marlow, B. 1965. Marsupials of Australia. Brisbane: The Jacaranda Press.

Maynes, G. 1995. Parma Wallaby. Pp. 342-344 in R Strahan, ed. Mammals of Australia. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Ord, T., D. Cooper, C. Evans. 1989. Nocturnal behaviour of the parma wallaby, Macropus parma (Marsupialia : Macropodoidea). Australian Journal of Zoology, 47/2: 155-167. Accessed October 13, 2005 at http://www.publish.csiro.au/nid/90/paper/ZO98047.htm.

Ride, W. 1970. A Guide to the Native Mammals of Australia. London: Oxford University Press.