The population dynamics of a tropical possum, Trichosurus vulpecula arnhemensis Collett

The population ecology of Trichosurus vulpecula has been studied extensively in temperate Australia and in New Zealand. This paper provides the results of a trapping study of a population of the northern brushtail possum (T. vulpecula arnhemensis Collett 1897) in the wet–dry tropics of Australia’s Northern Territory. Possums were readily trapped and the population had a comparatively high density for Australian brushtails of around 3 per hectare. The core home-range size and range length for males was 1.12 ha and 165 m; this was a little larger than for females (0.89 ha and 155 m). The possums were not very agressive when handled and were apparently quite socially tolerant. The ready availability of nutritious food sources throughout the year enables them to breed continuously, producing 1.7 young per year per adult female. If environmental conditions become unfavourable with a series of poor wet seasons or frequent fires, the habitat will resemble the less-productive eucalypt forest not occupied by possums. Mortality of pouch young and immatures will increase under these conditions but with a potential reproductive rate of nearly two per year, populations of the northern brushtail can readily recover from short periods of unfavourable conditions.

Author Kerle, J. A.
Year 1998
Secondary title Wildlife Research
Volume 25
Number 2
Pages 171-181
Region NT