Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology

Small dasyurid marsupials – are they effective pollinators?

Ross L. Goldingay

Australian Journal of Zoology 48(5) 597 - 606
Published: 2000


The evidence that several species of dasyurid marsupial commonly visit flowers and therefore act as pollinators is reviewed. Three species of Antechinus have frequently been trapped visiting flowering banksias. Several studies provide compelling evidence that Antechinus stuartii is an effective pollinator. It was recorded visiting flowering banksias at eight locations, where it carried abundant pollen on its snout and in its faeces. At one site, regular flower visitation was demonstrated by automated photography and by spool-and-line tracking. Pollen load data for Sminthopsis murina and Sminthopsis griseoventer suggest that these species may also act as pollinators. Evidence for pollination by Phascogale tapoatafa is anecdotal but studies at three locations report extended bouts of nectar feeding, and heavy pollen loads were directly observed at one site. Some 38 plant species are known to be visited by 10 dasyurid species, with 4–10 plant species being visited by each of five dasyurid species. These observations suggest that several species of dasyurid are likely to be important pollinators. Further studies are needed to clarify the extent of their role. This review highlights the types of data that should be sought.

© CSIRO 2000

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