Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours


Faculty of Communications, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Alan Needham

Second Advisor

Dr Jackie Courtenay


In late 1994, Gilbert's Potoroo was rediscovered almost 120 years after it was believed to have become extinct. It was found at Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve, near Albany, Western Australia. Since then, it has become urgent that detailed studies of the potoroo's behaviour and ecology be undertaken, so as to increase the understanding of the needs of 'this critically endangered marsupial. Due to its critical status, increasing the number of animals is of paramount importance to the continued survival of this species. An understanding of the behavioural repertoire of the species will aid in its recovery and provide the basis for management decisions concerning breeding, habitat management and captive care. Behavioural studies of captive animals may also act as a guide for future field studies. The present study was conducted on nine animals housed in the captive colony at Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve to determine the behavioural repertoire of the species, with particular attention to breeding behaviour, interactions between males and females and the behaviour of males housed under different conditions. The latter was to determine if there was a behavioural cause for excessive encrustation of male genitalia. The activity patterns of the animals were also studied. It was found that the behavioural repertoire of Gilbert's Potoroo is similar to that of other Potorous spp. and other closely related potoroid marsupials. No obvious behavioural differences between a male housed alone and males housed with one or two females were observed that would indicate a behavioural cause for penile encrustation. Some differences in the behaviours of sexually compatible and incompatible pairs were observed. It was also found that althougt1 Potorous gilbertii is most active at night, activity before sunset and after sunrise was commonly seen throuout the study. Activity during the middle of the day was, however, observed on only a few occassions.

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