Brushtail possum, Trichosurus vulpecula, populations in south-western Australia: demography, diet and conservation status

The common brushtail possum, Trichosurus vulpecula, has suffered a marked reduction in its geographic range from the arid areas of Western Australia and now is abundant only in the more mesic forests and woodlands of the south-west. A mark–recapture and dietary study of a population in the tuart/peppermint forests near Busselton found that the species occurred at a density of 2–3 individuals per hectare, fed principally on peppermint, Agonis flexuosa, but occurred in all treed habitats in the area, including Pinus radiata plantations. Females matured in their third year and produced a single young annually between April and September that was weaned about seven months later. Comparisons between the demographic parameters of this population and that of a study from semiarid south-western Australia showed marked differences, which were comparable to variation shown by population studies of T. vulpecula in eastern Australia and New Zealand. Predation and habitat alteration have probably had a marked effect on determining the present distribution and abundance of the species in south-western Australia.

Author How, R. A. and Hillcox, S. J.
Year 2000
Secondary title Wildlife Research
Volume 27
Number 1
Pages 81-89
Region WA