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PWS Fire Update - Friday 15 February 2019

15/02/2019

Parks and Wildlife Tasmania (PWS) can advise the following locations, reserves and tracks have been re-opened today (Friday 15 February).More

PWS Fire Update - Thursday 14 February 2019

14/02/2019

Parks and Wildlife Tasmania (PWS) can advise the following locations, reserves and tracks have been re-opened.More

PWS Fire Update - Monday 11 February 2019

11/02/2019

As a result of the emergency service suppression efforts and calmer weather conditions over recent days, PWS can advise the following changes to track openings and closures.More

Tasman Peninsula Dusky Antechinus, (Antechinus vandycki sp. nov.)

Photograph by Gary Cranitch, QM
Queensland University of Technology researchers have recently discovered a new species of Antechinus near Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula. The Tasman Peninsula Dusky Antechinus (Antechinus vandycki sp. nov.) is considered a third Tasmanian species of Antechinus, distinct from the Dusky Antechinus (Antechinus swainsonii) and the Swamp Antechinus (Antechinus minimus).

Although the first species of Antechinus, a Tasmanian specimen of Antechinus swainsonii, was described as early as 1840, in recent decades molecular and genetic studies have expanded the number of distinct species of mammals in general; in the genus Antechuinus, as many as thirteen species have been described.

Following a taxonomic revision, detailed descriptions of the new, endemic species A. vandycki sp. nov. have been published. The study is based on a small sample size and the distribution, abundance, and habitat requirements are largely unknown.

The same study also suggests the Dusky AntechinusA. swainsonii, now be recognised as endemic to Tasmania.

The Tasman Peninsula Dusky Antechinus is very similar in external appearance to the Dusky Antechinus, making the two species very difficult to distinguish in the field. It weighs less than 100 grams and is about 13cm from the snout to the base of the tail. It is a deep, dark grey on the back and lighter grey on the underside with brownish highlights on the body.  It is not yet known whether the two species co-occur.

As with the Dusky and Swamp Antechinuses, the new species also displays a remarkable, frenzied mating ritual which leads the death of the males within three weeks of copulation, leaving a population comprised almost entirely of females and their offspring.

If confined to the Tasman Peninsula, the species is likely to be considered rare on the basis of its limited distribution. The Tasman Peninsula Dusky Antechinus is found in mixed wet sclerophyll forestAs there is only a limited amount of such habitat on the Tasman Peninsula, potential threats to the species include loss of habitat and predation by feral cats, which are common on the Peninsula.