CSIRO Publishing blank image blank image blank image blank imageBooksblank image blank image blank image blank imageJournalsblank image blank image blank image blank imageAbout Usblank image blank image blank image blank imageShopping Cartblank image blank image blank image You are here: Journals > Australian Journal of Zoology   
Australian Journal of Zoology
Journal Banner
  Evolutionary, Molecular and Comparative Zoology
blank image Search
blank image blank image
blank image
  Advanced Search

Journal Home
About the Journal
Editorial Board
Online Early
Current Issue
Just Accepted
All Issues
Special Issues
Sample Issue
For Authors
General Information
Notice to Authors
Submit Article
Open Access
For Referees
Referee Guidelines
Review an Article
Annual Referee Index
For Subscribers
Subscription Prices
Customer Service
Print Publication Dates

blue arrow e-Alerts
blank image
Subscribe to our Email Alert or RSS feeds for the latest journal papers.

red arrow Connect with us
blank image
facebook twitter youtube

red arrow Supplementary Series
blank image
All volumes of the Australian Journal of Zoology Supplementary Series are online and available to subscribers of Australian Journal of Zoology.


Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 60(1)

Influence of habitat on home-range size in the short-beaked echidna

Jenny Sprent A and Stewart C. Nicol A B

A School of Zoology, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia.
B Corresponding author. Email: s.c.nicol@utas.edu.au

Australian Journal of Zoology 60(1) 46-53 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/ZO11098
Submitted: 7 December 2011  Accepted: 15 May 2012   Published: 27 June 2012

PDF (266 KB) $25
 Export Citation

The size of an animal’s home range is strongly influenced by the resources available within it. In productive, resource-rich habitats sufficient resources are obtainable within a smaller area, and for many species, home ranges are smaller in resource-rich habitats than in habitats with lower resource abundance. Location data on 14 male and 27 female echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus) fitted with tracking transmitters, in the southern midlands of Tasmania, were used to test the influence of habitat type on home-range size. We hypothesised that as woodland should offer more shelter, food resources and refuges than pasture, echidnas living in woodland would have smaller home ranges than those living in pasture areas. We found significant differences between the sexes. Male echidnas had a significantly larger mean home range than females and a quite different relationship between home-range size and habitat type from females. There was no relationship between the proportion of woodland within male home ranges and home-range size whereas female echidnas had a highly significant negative relationship. This suggests that home-range size of female echidnas is highly influenced by the amount of woodland within it, but the home-range size of male echidnas is controlled by factors other than habitat. This pattern is consistent with the spatial ecology of many other solitary species with a promiscuous mating system. The home ranges of females are scaled to encompass all necessary resources for successfully raising their young within a minimal area, whilst the large home ranges of males are scaled to maximise access to females.

Additional keywords: habitat quality, monotreme.


Abensperg-Traun, M. (1991). A study of home-range, movements and shelter use in adult and juvenile echidnas, Tachyglossus aculeatus (Monotremata: Tachyglossidae), in Western Australian wheatbelt reserves. Australian Mammalogy 14, 13–22.

Arnold, W., Heldmaier, G., Ortmann, S., Pohl, H., Ruf, T., and Steinlechner, S. (1991). Ambient temperatures in hibernacula and their energetic consequences for alpine marmots Marmota marmota. Journal of Thermal Biology 16, 223–226.
CrossRef |

Augee, M. L., Beard, L. A., and Grigg, G. C. (1992). Home range of echidnas in the Snowy Mountains. In ‘Platypus and Echidnas’. (Ed. M. L. Augee.) pp. 225–231. (Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales: Sydney.)

Ayre, G. L. (1962). Problems in using the Lincoln index for estimating the size of ant colonies (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Journal of the New York Entomological Society 70, 159–166.

Bixler, A., and Gittleman, J. L. (2000). Variation in home range and use of habitat in the striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis). Journal of Zoology 251, 525–533.
CrossRef |

Bowers, M. A., and Smith, H. D. (1979). Differential habitat utilization by sexes of the deermouse, Permomyscus maniculatus. Ecology 60, 869–875.
CrossRef |

Brice, P. H., Grigg, G. C., Beard, L. A., and Donovan, J. A. (2002). Heat tolerance of short-beaked echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus) in the field. Journal of Thermal Biology 27, 449–457.
CrossRef |

Burt, W. (1943). Territoriality and home range concepts as applied to mammals. Journal of Mammalogy 24, 346–352.
CrossRef |

Calder, W. A. (1984). ‘Size, Function, and Life History.’ (Harvard University Press: Cambridge.)

Clutton-Brock, T. H. (1989). Mammalian mating systems. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences (1934–1990) 236, 339–372.

Dahle, B., and Swenson, J. E. (2003). Seasonal range size in relation to reproductive strategies in brown bears Ursus arctos. Journal of Animal Ecology 72, 660–667.
CrossRef |

Ferguson, A. W., Currit, N. A., and Weckerly, F. W. (2009). Isometric scaling in home-range size of male and female bobcats (Lynx rufus). Canadian Journal of Zoology 87, 1052–1060.
CrossRef |

Fisher, D. O. (2000). Effects of vegetation structure, food and shelter on the home range and habitat use of an endangered wallaby. Journal of Applied Ecology 37, 660–671.
CrossRef |

Gehrt, S. D., and Fritzell, E. K. (1998). Resource distribution, female home range dispersion and male spatial interactions: group structure in a solitary carnivore. Animal Behaviour 55, 1211–1227.
CrossRef |

Hawkins, C. E., and Racey, P. A. (2009). A novel mating system in a solitary carnivore: the fossa. Journal of Zoology 277, 196–204.
CrossRef |

Kelt, D. A., and Van Vuren, D. H. (2001). The ecology and macroecology of mammalian home range area. American Naturalist 157, 637–645.
CrossRef | CAS |

Laundré, J. W., and Loxterman, J. (2007). Impact of edge habitat on summer home range size in female pumas. American Midland Naturalist 157, 221–229.
CrossRef |

Makarieva, A. M., Gorshkova, V. G., and Li, B.-L. (2005). Why do population density and inverse home range scale differently with body size? Implications for ecosystem stability. Ecological Complexity 2, 259–271.
CrossRef |

McLoughlin, P. D., and Ferguson, S. H. (2000). A hierarchical pattern of limiting factors helps explain variation in home range size. Ecoscience 7, 123–130.

McNab, B. K. (2000). Energy constraints on carnivore diet. Nature 407, 584.
CrossRef | CAS |

McNab, B. K. (2002). ‘The Physiological Ecology of Vertebrates: a View from Energetics.’ (Cornell University Press: New York.)

Mitchell, M. S., and Powell, R. A. (2007). Optimal use of resources structures home ranges and spatial distribution of black bears. Animal Behaviour 74, 219–230.
CrossRef |

Morrow, G., Andersen, N. A., and Nicol, S. C. (2009). Reproductive strategies of the short-beaked echidna – a review with new data from a long-term study on the Tasmanian subspecies (Tachyglossus aculeatus setosus). Australian Journal of Zoology 57, 275–282.
CrossRef |

Nicol, S. C., and Andersen, N. A. (2007a). The life history of an egg-laying mammal, the echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus). Ecoscience 14, 275–285.
CrossRef |

Nicol, S. C., and Andersen, N. A. (2007b). Cooling rates and body temperature regulation of hibernating echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus). The Journal of Experimental Biology 210, 586–592.
CrossRef |

Nicol, S. C., Andersen, N. A., Arnold, W., and Ruf, T. (2009). Rewarming rates of two large hibernators: comparison of a monotreme and a eutherian. Journal of Thermal Biology 34, 155–159.
CrossRef |

Nicol, S. C., Vanpé, C., Sprent, J., Morrow, G., and Andersen, N. A. (2011). Spatial ecology of a ubiquitous Australian anteater, the short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus). Journal of Mammalogy 92, 101–110.
CrossRef |

R Development Core Team (2009). ‘R: A language and environment for statistical computing.’ (Foundation for Statistical Computing: Vienna.)

Reyes-López, J., Ruiz, N., and Fernández-Haeger, J. (2003). Community structure of ground-ants: the role of single trees in a Mediterranean pastureland. Acta Oecologica 24, 195–202.

Ries, L., and Sisk, T. D. (2004). A predictive model of edge effects. Ecology 85, 2917–2926.
CrossRef |

Rismiller, P., and McKelvey, M. (1994). Orientation and relocation in short-beaked echidnas Tachyglossus aculeatus multiaculeatus. In ‘Reintroduction Biology of Australian and New Zealand Fauna’. (Ed. M. Serena.) pp. 227–234. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Rismiller, P. D., and McKelvey, M. W. (2009). Activity and behaviour of lactating echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus multiaculeatus) from hatching of egg to weaning of young. Australian Journal of Zoology 57, 265–273.
CrossRef |

Safi, K., König, B., and Kerth, G. (2007). Sex differences in population genetics, home range size and habitat use of the parti-colored bat (Vespertilio murinus, Linnaeus 1758) in Switzerland and their consequences for conservation. Biological Conservation 137, 28–36.
CrossRef |

Saïd, S., and Servanty, S. (2005). The influence of landscape structure on female roe deer home-range size. Landscape Ecology 20, 1003–1012.
CrossRef |

Sandell, M. (1989). The mating tactics and spacing patterns of solitary carnivores. In ‘Carnivore Behavior, Ecology, and Evolution’. (Ed. J. L. Gittleman.) pp. 164–182. (Chapman and Hall: London.)

Smith, A. P., Wellham, G. S., and Green, S. W. (1989). Seasonal foraging activity and microhabitat selection by echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus) on the New England Tablelands. Australian Journal of Ecology 14, 457–466.
CrossRef |

Sprent, J. A., Andersen, N. A., and Nicol, S. C. (2006). Latrine use by the short-beaked echidna, Tachyglossus aculeatus. Australian Mammalogy 28, 131–133.
CrossRef |

Stirrat, S. C. (2003). Seasonal changes in home-range area and habitat use by the agile wallaby (Macropus agilis). Wildlife Research 30, 593–600.
CrossRef |

Wilkinson, D. A., Grigg, G. C., and Beard, L. A. (1998). Shelter selection and home range of echidnas, Tachyglossus aculeatus, in the highlands of south-east Queensland. Wildlife Research 25, 219–232.
CrossRef |

Williams-Linera, G. (1990). Vegetation structure and environmental conditions of forest edges in Panama. Journal of Ecology 78, 356–373.
CrossRef |

Worton, B. J. (1989). Kernel methods for estimating the utilization distribution in home-range studies. Ecology 70, 164–168.
CrossRef |

Yu Ka Ying, T. (2010). Ant community of the southern Midlands of Tasmania. B.Sc.(Honours) Thesis, University of Tasmania, Hobart.

Subscriber Login

Legal & Privacy | Contact Us | Help


© CSIRO 1996-2014