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

Age of road-killed common brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) and common ringtail possums (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) in an urban environment

R. A. Giffney A B , T. Russell A and J. L. Kohen A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, NSW 2109, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: rgiffney@optusnet.com.au

Australian Mammalogy 31(2) 137-142 https://doi.org/10.1071/AM09016
Submitted: 28 May 2009  Accepted: 16 October 2009   Published: 16 November 2009

Abstract

Road-associated mortality has been identified as having major ecological effects on small, fragmented and declining populations. Both the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) and common ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) appear to be in decline in some regions across their natural ranges. Urban populations may be an exception; however, little is known of their population ecology. This study investigates age trends in a subset of road-killed brushtail and ringtail possums collected along eight northern Sydney roads between March 2004 and March 2006. From a total of 591 recorded road-killed possums, 86 were collected for use in this study (36 brushtails, 50 ringtails). Age was estimated using tooth wear patterns on cleaned skulls. Both species showed trends associated with age, and younger possums of both species were more likely to be killed on roads than older animals. Male-biased dispersal of subadult possums is considered a major contributing factor to the over-representation of young brushtail possums in this road-kill sample.

Additional keywords: conservation, marsupial, wildlife management.


Acknowledgements

We thank Jutta Eymann for advice and assessment of tooth wear classes for brushtail possums and Brian Giffney, Roberto Reyes and David Harrington for assistance with skull preparation. Thanks also go to Belinda Bowman for help in the field and to Sarah Wilks for comment on this manuscript.


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