University of SA Associate Professor Topa Petit discusses Island's pygmy-possums

PRESENTATION: The congolli found on Kangaroo Island will feature in this month's zoom workshop hosted by the University of SA. Photo: Nick Whiterod
PRESENTATION: The congolli found on Kangaroo Island will feature in this month's zoom workshop hosted by the University of SA. Photo: Nick Whiterod

In a July zoom workshop hosted by University of SA Associate Professor Topa Petit, she described the two Kangaroo Island pygmy-possums - Western and Little species - and what was known about them.

The next workshop, scheduled for August 12, will highlight Freshwater Fish of Kangaroo Island, their biology, and their conservation.

Meanwhile, the Little pygmy-possum is the smallest of all pygmy-possums (seven-eight grams) and has grey ventral fur.

The Western pygmy-possum has white ventral fur and is about eight-10g adult size.

Both have many similarities, but the little pygmy-possum distribution on the island is more restricted.

"We know that about 88 per cent of the known range of the little pygmy-possum burnt this summer, and impacts on the population could be very serious.," Assoc. Prof. Petit said.

"The nest box and artificial nectar projects that we are implementing target both pygmy-possum species.

"In past studies, my students and I determined that the western pygmy-possum was resilient under reasonable conditions.

"It's also very clever and navigates by the stars. We hope that the little pygmy-possum is as resilient, but suspect it is not. Fires, decreased rainfall, and increased temperature are detrimental to both species."

Assoc. Prof. Petit indicated that the Western Pygmy-Possum travelled over hundreds of hectares in just a few days.

"These possums need large expanses of floristically diverse habitat because they feed principally on floral nectar, pollen, and tree sap. They are also extraordinary pollinators of some of our most important trees," she added.

The next University of SA Zoom workshop will take place at 5 pm Wednesday, August 12 (meeting ID 934-1153-1891, password 0123).

It will be presented by Dr Sylvia Zukowski and Dr Nick Whiterod, aquatic ecologists and Aquasave Consultants for the Nature Glenelg Trust.

Both have 20 years of experience in natural resource management, ecological freshwater research, and community engagement.

Everyone is welcome to the free workshop.