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Body mass and extinction risk in Australian marsupials: The 'Critical Weight Range' revisited

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 07:32 authored by Christopher JohnsonChristopher Johnson, Isaac, JL
Australian mammals have suffered an exceptionally high rate of decline and extinction over the last two hundred years. Body mass is linked to extinction risk in Australian mammals, but the nature of this association is controversial. A widely held view is that species of intermediate body mass (between 35 and 5500 g, the ‘critical weight range’, CWR) have declined most severely. However, the existence of the CWR has been disputed. In this paper we clarify the relationship of decline status and body mass in Australian marsupials. We show that the form of this relationship differs for ground-living versus arboreal species, and for species from low versus high rainfall areas. Among ground-living species and those from low-rainfall areas, declines were strongly size-selective and concentrated on species within the CWR. For the remaining species, decline was only weakly related to body mass with no evidence of heightened risk for species of intermediate size. We conclude that for terrestrial species in low rainfall areas, species within the CWR are most at risk of decline and extinction.

History

Publication title

Austral Ecology

Volume

34

Pagination

35-40

ISSN

1442-9985

Department/School

School of Natural Sciences

Publisher

Blackwell Publishing Asia

Place of publication

54 University St, P O Box 378, Carlton, Australia,

Rights statement

The definitive published version is available online at: http://www.interscience.wiley.com

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Terrestrial biodiversity

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