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Spatial ecology of a ubiquitous Australian anteater, the short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)


Nicol, SC and Vanpe, C and Sprent, J and Morrow, G and Andersen, NA, Spatial ecology of a ubiquitous Australian anteater, the short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus), Journal of Mammalogy, 92, (1) pp. 101-110. ISSN 0022-2372 (2011) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2011 The American Society of Mammalogists

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DOI: doi:10.1644/09-MAMM-A-398.1


The only specialized ant-eating mammal in Australia and New Guinea is the egg-laying short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus), and this single species occurs throughout Australia in a wide range of habitats. Despite the diversity of habitats and density and distribution of prey species, home-range sizes throughout Australia seem remarkably similar. We radiotracked echidnas in a population in Tasmania over a 13-year period and calculated home-range sizes using the fixed kernel method and the minimum convex polygon method. No relationship was found between body mass and home-range size, and mean annual home-range size of males (90% kernels) was 107 ha 6 48 SD, twice that of females (48 6 28 ha). Male home ranges overlapped considerably and also overlapped with those of several females. The echidna follows the pattern seen in many solitary eutherian mammals: both sexes are promiscuous, and males have larger home ranges than females. Echidnas show a high degree of home-range fidelity but can make rare excursions out of their normal area. Hibernating echidnas move between shelters during their periodic arousals, resulting in home-range sizes similar to those of the active period. Consistent with their very low metabolic rate, echidnas have home-range sizes considerably smaller than predicted for carnivorous or omnivorous mammals. Examination of data from other ant-eating mammals shows that as a group anteaters not only have smaller than predicted home ranges but they depart significantly from the normal relationship between home-range size and body mass.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:anteaters, home range, kernel, mating system, monotremes, myrmecophagy, short-beaked echidna, spatial ecology
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Ecological physiology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Nicol, SC (Associate Professor Stewart Nicol)
UTAS Author:Sprent, J (Dr Jennifer Sprent)
UTAS Author:Morrow, G (Ms Gemma Morrow)
UTAS Author:Andersen, NA (Dr Niels Andersen)
ID Code:67449
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:17
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2011-03-03
Last Modified:2017-11-01
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