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

Just Accepted

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Dietary composition and prey preference of a new carnivorous marsupial species, the Buff-footed Antechinus (Antechinus mysticus), at the northern and southern limits of its range

Coral Pearce , Chris Burwell , Andrew Baker

Abstract

The Buff-footed Antechinus, Antechinus mysticus, is a newly described carnivorous marsupial from eastern Australia. We examined the diet composition and prey preference of this little known dasyurid in the southern-most (Brisbane) and northern-most (Eungella) populations. Animals were captured over three months (July – September) during 2014 encompassing the breeding period (late July - August) of the species. Seasonal sampling carried over into a second year which followed the succeeding cohort of juveniles as they dispersed from their maternal nest (summer), through their maturation (autumn), to the beginning of breeding (winter), sampling across one complete generation. The diet of A. mysticus consisted predominately predominantly of invertebrates, with sixteen prey orders identified (eleven Insecta; two Arachnida; two Myriapoda; one Crustacea). Vertebrate (Family Scincidae) consumption was recorded in low abundance at both sites. The diet of A. mysticus was dominated by Araneae (spiders), Blattodea (cockroaches) and Coleoptera (beetles). Comparison of identified prey consumption in scats with prey availability in pitfall traps showed A. mysticus to be a dietary generalist, opportunistically consuming mostly invertebrate prey with supplementary predation on small vertebrates. Juvenile A. mysticuspreyed predominantly on Blattodea (33.4% mean percent volume) and Coleoptera (31.6% mean percent volume), potentially suggesting a preference for larger, easier to catch, prey items. Further exploration into the relationship between prey and body size is required to determine this.

ZO16028  Accepted 30 June 2017

© CSIRO 2017