(Woodlark Island Cuscus) is only found on Woodlark Island, which is part of the Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea, and on the neighboring island of Alcester, which is 70 kilometres south of Woodlark (Norris, 1999).
- Other Geographic Terms
- island endemic
prefers primary and secondary lowland dry forest. For this reason, it is more plentiful on the eastern side of Woodlark Island, where this is the predominant type of vegetation, than in the dense jungle of the western side (Flannery, 1995).
- Habitat Regions
- Terrestrial Biomes
has a distinctive pelage. It is short and woolly with irregularly marbled brown, ochre, and white dorsal areas. The ventral fur is white with irregular dark spots. The color varies on individuals along a continuum from predominantly dark with some lighter spots to predominantly light colored with a few small darker spots (Flannery, 1995). The species has black facial skin and a pink rhinarium. Pale ear flashes are sometimes present.
is a medium sized marsupial. The females are on average slightly larger than the males.
is highly adapted to arboreal life. The tail is long and prehensile. The end of the tail is naked and used to assist in gripping. Digits one and two are opposable against three, four, and five. The first and second digits of the pes are syndactylous.
The skull is pear shaped and widest at the posterior end of the zygomatic arch. With age the supraorbital ridges fuse to form a sagittal crest. The intraorbital trough is broad and shallow. The lacrimal is broadly exposed on the face of the rostrum (Norris, 1999).
The dental formula is 3/1 1/0 2/1 4/4=32. There are also two to three unicuspids of unknown homology between i1 and p3 (Menzies, 1986). The molars are not strongly crenulated. There is a well developed paraconid on m2 (Norris, 1999).
- Range mass
- 1500 to 2050 g
- 52.86 to 72.25 oz
- Average mass
- 1730 g
- 60.97 oz
- Range length
- 638 to 717 mm
- 25.12 to 28.23 in
- Average length
- 688 mm
- 27.09 in
Little is known about the specific development and life cycle of. However, like many marsupials the young are born naked and highly altricial. The young are carried in the marsupium, after which they grasp onto the mother's back and ride there while they continue to mature (Vaughn, Ryan, and Czaplewski, 2000; Norris, 1999).
Mating behavior has not been observed in. The only information on reproduction and ontogeny comes from the capture of five females in August 1987. Of these females, one was parous, one had no young, two had naked pouch young, and one had a well grown back young. From this it can be inferred that the breeding season is an extended period (Flannery, 1995).
is a solitary species. Radio tracking studies showed a strong tendency for individuals to center their activities around a small number of sleeping trees. The animals sleep during the day sheltered in hollows within trees and emerge at night to forage in the upper part of the forest canopy. They are almost completely arboreal. Interactions between individuals are often aggressive (Norris, 1999)
Communication and Perception
Local people on Woodlark and Alcester Islands claim thatfeeds on two species of vine. The species of these vines have not yet been identified. It has been suggested based on information from other species of Phalanger that they may also eat fruit and even meat when available (Flannery, 1995).
No anti-predator adaptations have been described for. is the largest species of terrestrial mammal (with the exception of humans) on Woodlark Island, so it may have no predators in the wild (Norris, 1999). The animal is hunted by the people of the island (Flannery, 1995).
- Known Predators
- humans (Homo sapiens)
may compete with the omnivorous sugar gliders and frugivorous bats (Dobsonia pannietensis, Nyctimene major, Pteropus conspicillatus, Pteropus hypomelanus- Flannery, 1995) which also forage in the forest canopy for food. It is not known to raid gardens, so it is not regarded as a pest (Norris, 1999).
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
is hunted for meat by Woodlark Island's indigenous people. However, the meat from is only a minor part of the local diet, and the animals are only hunted when the sea is too rough to fish (Flannery, 1994).
- Positive Impacts
Initial expeditions which concentrated on the western side of Woodlark Island foundto be scarce, leading to fears that the species was endangered. More recent expeditions have found it to be moderately abundant on the eastern side of the island and on Alcester Island, even around human populations where it is hunted. The species is still considered vulnerable because of it's limited geographic distribution (Norris, 1999).
Corie Hanna (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ondrej Podlaha (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.
- Pacific Ocean
body of water between the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), Australia, Asia, and the western hemisphere. This is the world's largest ocean, covering about 28% of the world's surface.
- 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.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
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.
an animal that mainly eats leaves.
A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
- island endemic
animals that live only on an island or set of islands.
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.
active during the night
- oceanic islands
islands that are not part of continental shelf areas, they are not, and have never been, connected to a continental land mass, most typically these are volcanic islands.
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
Flannery, T. 1995. Mammals of the south-west Pacific and Moluccan islands.. Chatswood, New South Wales, Australia: Reed Books.
Menzies, J., J. Pernetta. 1986. A taxonomic revision of cuscuses allied to *Phalanger orientalis* (Marsupialia, Phalangeridae). Journal of Zoology (London), B1: 551-618.
Norris, C. 1999. *Phalanger lullulae*. Mammalian Species, 620: 1-4.
Vaughan, T., J. Ryan, N. Czaplewski. 2000. Mammalogy Fourth Edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders College Publishing.