Australian Mammalogy Australian Mammalogy Society
Journal of the Australian Mammal Society
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Aspects of the ecology of the Atherton antechinus (Antechinus godmani) living in sympatry with the rusty antechinus (A. adustus) in the Wet Tropics, Queensland – a trapping and radio-tracking study

Geoffrey C. Smith A D , Kath Means B and Sue Churchill C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Science Information Technology and Innovation, Queensland Herbarium, Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Mt Coot-tha Road, Toowong, Qld 4066, Australia.

B Brook House Farm, Bosbury, Ledbury, Herefordshire HR81QB, United Kingdom.

C PO Box 1170, Port Douglas, Qld 4870, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: geoffrey.c.smith@dsiti.qld.gov.au

Australian Mammalogy - https://doi.org/10.1071/AM16050
Submitted: 22 September 2016  Accepted: 4 March 2017   Published online: 2 May 2017

Abstract

The ecology of the geographically restricted Atherton antechinus (Antechinus godmani) is poorly known. This trapping and radio-tracking study provides historical baseline information on its ecology. The Atherton antechinus foraged primarily at night in deep leaf litter and rotting logs. The sympatric, smaller rusty antechinus (A. adustus) was arboreal and active both day and night, suggesting resource partitioning between species. The diet of the Atherton antechinus included a significant component of beetles, centipedes, spiders, cockroaches, crickets, and ants; minor items included a frog and a skink. Declines in male condition of both antechinus species occurred in June–July. Free-living young of the rusty and the Atherton antechinus were first trapped in November and January, respectively. Minimum convex polygon home ranges for the Atherton antechinus were 2.5–5.8 ha for males and 3.6 ha for a female. Multiple nest sites were used by individual Atherton antechinuses with simultaneous sharing of nests observed only between sexes. A home range of a single female was overlapped by the home ranges of numerous males. The Atherton antechinus prefers contiguous areas of wet tropical upland rainforest with old-growth characteristics, including large old trees for nest sites, fallen woody debris and deep leaf litter for foraging. The impacts of climate change could be devastating.

Additional keywords: diet, diurnal activity, home range, nesting, weight.


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