About the Species
Eastern barred bandicoots are small marsupials native to Australia and Tasmania. Though the Tasmanian subspecies is faring well, the Australian populations of bandicoots have dwindled due to predatory red foxes and habitat loss. They are known to be Extinct in the Wild in mainland Australia.
In 1991, Zoos Victoria established a conservation breeding program for this grassland dweller. The animals born in the breeding program are used to supplement the small populations that Zoos Victoria and the Recovery Team have reintroduced into the wild. So far, reintroduced populations have struggled due to a proliferation of foxes, which are invasive to the region.
In 2012, Zoos Victoria invited CBSG to conduct a population viability analysis (PVA) workshop for the eastern barred bandicoot. The most common technique for conducting a PVA is by using computer simulation models. These models attempt to replicate the processes of reproduction, survival, dispersal, etc. that collectively define the population demographics of a particular species.
CBSG used the computer modeling tool Vortex to examine current population size and amount of animals from the captive population that would be required to achieve stable populations and maintain genetic diversity at wild sites. The resulting models illustrated the capacity for bandicoot populations to rapidly grow but also rapidly decline. This revealed important implications for successfully managing these populations.
The workshop brought together members of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team, captive management specialists, and scientists researching bandicoot biology. These participants added their diverse expertise to provide a more complete set of knowledge and data to the modeling and workshop discussions. Since the workshop, new data have been gathered to inform a subsequent round of modeling. The results from the workshop are being used by Zoos Victoria and the Recovery Team to directly inform decision making to conserve this species.