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Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats

The diet of Antechinus agilis and A. swainsonii in unlogged and regenerating sites in Mumbulla State Forest, south-eastern New South Wales

Daniel Lunney, Alison Matthews and Jan Grigg

Wildlife Research 28(5) 459 - 464
Published: 30 November 2001


Analyses of the diets of Antechinus agilis and A. swainsonii from Mumbulla State Forest examined possible differences between species, sexes, logging treatment and aspect. Taxa from 15 orders were identified in the diet, and were predominantly terrestrial invertebrates. Overall, the dietary components were similar for each species, but the frequencies taken showed some differences. A. swainsonii ate more Diplopoda, Chilopoda and Blattodea egg capsules, while A. agilis ate more weevils (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Male A. agilis ate more coleopteran larvae, while females ate more Araneae. This difference in Araneae in the diet between sexes of A. agilis was significant in logged forest but not in unlogged forest. Female A. swainsonii ate more Isoptera than did males. The frequency of occurrence of lepidopteran larvae taken by A. agilis differed across the three age-classes of forest, with more taken in 26–34-year-old regrowth forest and none in unlogged forest. Vertebrate remains – small skinks (Lampropholis spp.) and feathertail glider (Acrobates pygmaeus) – were found only in A. agilis; these occurred infrequently in the diet. These interspecific differences, sex differences and, most importantly, differences between age classes of forest warrant further investigation, particularly those relating to foraging patterns and prey availability.

© CSIRO 2001

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