(Péron & Lesueur, 1807)
|Banded hare-wallaby range
(red — native, pink — reintroduced)
The banded hare-wallaby or mernine (Lagostrophus fasciatus) is a marsupial that is currently found on the Islands of Bernier and Dorre off western Australia. A small population has recently been established on Faure Island and it appears to have been successful. Evidence suggested that the mernine was the only living member of the Sthenurine subfamily, and a recent osteology-based phylogeny of Macropodids found that the banded hare-wallaby was indeed a bastion of an ancient lineage, agreeing with other (molecular) appraisals of the evolutionary history of L. fasciatus. However, the authors analysis did not support the placement of the mernine within Sthenurinae, but suggest it belongs to a plesiomorphic clade which branched off from other Macropodids in the early Miocene and put forward the new subfamily Lagostrophinae. This new subfamily includes the banded hare-wallaby and the fossil genus Troposodon.
The banded hare-wallaby is nocturnal and tends to live in groups at nesting sites; this species is quite social. Nesting occurs in thickets under very dense brush. This macropod prefers to live in Acacia ligulata scrub. Males are extremely aggressive. The average banded hare-wallaby weighs 1.7 kg, with females weighing more than males. It measures about 800mm from the head to the end of the tail, with the tail almost the same length (averaging 375mm) as the body. The banded hare-wallaby has a short nose. Long, grey fur is speckled with yellow and silver and fades into a light grey on the underbelly. There is no color variation on the face or head, the coloring is solid grey. Dark, horizontal stripes of fur start at the middle of the back and stop at the base of the tail.
The species were once found on the mainland, in the southwest of Western Australia and South Australia, but they are now restricted in their distribution to Bernier Island and Dorre Island in Western Australia. Although the banded hare-wallaby was once found across the south-western portion of Australia, it is believed to have been extinct on the mainland since 1963, and the last recorded evidence of the banded hare-wallaby on the Australian mainland was in 1906. It is possible that the devastation of the species can be attributed to the loss of habitat to the clearing of vegetation, the loss of food (due to competition with other animals), and predators.
This diprotodontian is a vegetarian and receives most of its water from food. This species prefers to eat various grasses, fruit, and other vegetation. Male aggression is usually brought out in competition for food with other males and is very rarely expressed toward females.
Mating season starts in December and ends in September. The banded hare-wallaby reaches maturity at one year of age, breeding usually starts in the second year. Gestation appears to last several months and mothers generally raise one young each year, although it is possible for females to produce two young per year. Young remain in their mother's pouch for six months and continue to be weaned for another three months. In situations where a mother's young dies, some mothers have an extra embryo to possibly rear another.
- Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 59. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4.
- Richards, J., Morris, K., Burbidge, A. & Friend, T. (2008). Lagostrophus fasciatus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 28 December 2008. Database entry includes justification for why this species is listed as endangered
- Prideaux, G. J. and Warburton, N. M. (2010), 'An osteology-based appraisal of the phylogeny and evolution of kangaroos and wallabies (Macropodidae: Marsupialia)', Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 159 (4), 954–87. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1096-3642.2009.00607.x