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Brush-tailed mulgara - Dasycercus blythi
#1
Brush-tailed mulgara - Dasycercus blythi
[Image: Dasycercus_blythi001.jpg]

Scientific Classification:
[b]Kingdom:[/b] Animalia 

[b]Phylum:[/b] Chordata 
[b]Class:[/b] Mammalia 
[b]Order:[/b] Dasyuromorphia 
[b]Family:[/b] Dasyuridae 
[b]Genus:[/b] Dasycercus
[b]Species:[/b] [i]Dasycercus blythi [/i]

Description:
Dasycercus blythi is a medium sized, sexually dimorphic carnivorous dasyurid. Female body mass is between 50 g and 90 g, with males weighing between 75 g and 120 g. Their body length is 12 to 17  cm, and tail length is 6 - 10  cm.The tail is “of moderate length, shorter than the head and body, incrassated in good seasons (thickened); the proximal two-fifths covered with short still yellow hairs, the remainder with gradually lengthening black hairs that do not however form a crest. The whole of the lower surface is black, with the exception of a small proximal portion which is yellow.The upper portion of fur appears sandy and speckled with brown, while the basal portion appears as a dark grey. The entirety of the under belly, inner side of the limbs, and lining of the pouch are pure white. Dentition shows two premolar teeth in both the upper and lower jaws, with the first observed as smaller than the second in the upper jaw. The most obvious feature that distinguishes D. blythi from D. cristicauda is the sandy colour and the lack of a crest on the tail.

Unlike many other small dasyurids (carnivorous marsupials), males do not die after breeding and captive Crest-tailed Mulgaras of both sexes have remained reproductive for 6 years, indicating they may be fairly long lived

Distribution:
D. blythi is widely distributed, having been observed during different expeditions in the north-western, central, and south-western areas of the arid zone of Australia.While once widespread and common throughout the central deserts of Australia, a decline has been observed during the 1930s, resulting in a more fragmented distribution than previously observed. Considering the sedentary behavior of D. blythi, their spinfex habitat is considered unusual, as it provides a less stable environment that is prone to things such as fire.


Diet and Reproduction:
Mulgaras shelter in burrows up to 50cm deep during the day and emerge at night to hunt large invertebrates and small vertebrates, including mammals, reptiles and birds. They are found in a range of vegetation communities but Crest-tailed Mulgaras may prefer sand dunes with Sand Hill Cane-grass (Zygochloa paradoxa), and the favoured habitat of Brush-tailed Mulgaras is spinifex grasslands. However it is possible that both species occur in close proximity to each other. Both species are insectivorous and carnivorous and will feed on a range of insects, scorpions, centipedes, rodents, small marsupials and reptiles. Mulgara breed in late winter. Crest-tailed Mulgara have a litter of up to 8 young, and Brush-tailed Mulgara litters are up to six; the difference reflects the difference in nipple number between the two species. The young suckle for 12 to 15 weeks, hanging below the female’s body since the pouch is reduced to a pair of lateral flaps.
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  • Claudiu Constantin Nicolaescu
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#2
Quote:One of the largest remaining marsupial predators to persist across the Australian arid zone, despite increasing pressures, is the brush-tailed mulgara (Dasycercus blythi). Although D. blythi populations have declined since European settlement, they are currently considered stable, persisting in small, low-density isolated populations during periods of low rainfall. The main threat to the species is currently thought to be large introduced and feral predators. Through spool and line tracking, we examined how the species utilises its surroundings in relation to access to food resources and exposure to predators during a low-rainfall period. We found that D. blythi uses the open space between vegetation, a microhabitat that is known to support important prey species. We found that some individuals experiencing greater physiological demands consistently used resource-rich patches (such as termite mounds). We also identified the repeated use of great desert skink (Liopholis kintorei) burrows, which may provide access to prey items (such as young skinks), protection from predators and/or thermoregulation benefits. This study shows that D. blythi utilises several components in the landscape to increase access to reliable food resources and shows little active selection for areas that provide protection from predators.
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  • Claudiu Constantin Nicolaescu
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