Effects of drought on weight, survival and breeding success of agile antechinus (Antechinus agilis), dusky antechinus (A. swainsonii) and bush rats (Rattus fuscipes)

Marissa Parrott, S Ward, Peter Temple-Smith, Lynne Selwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Extreme weather conditions, such as drought, significantly decrease the survival and breeding success of numerous species. Despite the frequent occurrence of such conditions in Australia, little is known about the effects of changing environmental conditions on the native small mammals. This study, conducted from 2002 to 2004, focussed on sympatric wild populations of the agile antechinus (Antechinus agilis), with more limited information on the dusky antechinus (A. swainsonii) and the bush rat (Rattus fuscipes). Bodyweights of agile antechinus before and during the breeding season were significantly lower in 2003 (drought) than in 2002 or 2004. Survival of female agile antechinus and the number of young per litter also decreased significantly during drought. In contrast, the dusky antechinus showed no difference in mean bodyweights between years, high survival rates of females and similar litter sizes in 2002 and 2003. There was also no difference in bodyweight of bush rats between years. Low rainfall was recorded during pregnancy and lactation in the agile antechinus, but rainfall was higher during pregnancy and lactation in the dusky antechinus. The survival and breeding success of the agile antechinus may have been adversely affected by a combination of interspecific competition, timing of the breeding season and severity of the drought.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437 - 442
Number of pages6
JournalWildlife Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Cite this