Size matters : extraordinary rodent abundance on an Australian tropical floodplain

Madsen, Thomas, Ujvari, Beata, Shine, Richard, Buttemer, William and Olsson, Mats 2006, Size matters : extraordinary rodent abundance on an Australian tropical floodplain, Austral ecology, vol. 31, no. 3, pp. 361-365, doi: 10.1111/j.1442-9993.2006.01564.x.

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Title Size matters : extraordinary rodent abundance on an Australian tropical floodplain
Author(s) Madsen, Thomas
Ujvari, BeataORCID iD for Ujvari, Beata
Shine, Richard
Buttemer, William
Olsson, Mats
Journal name Austral ecology
Volume number 31
Issue number 3
Start page 361
End page 365
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Asia
Place of publication Milton, Qld
Publication date 2006-05
ISSN 1442-9985
Keyword(s) Australia
dusky rat
flood plainsmall herbivores
Summary Published estimates of the total biomass of natural populations of mammalian herbivores generally have ignored small-bodied taxa (especially, rodents). Including such taxa may dramatically change our understanding of total biomass and energy flow in such systems. Dusky rats (Rattus colletti) are small (up to 210 g) native Australian mammals, and our 5-year mark-recapture study on a tropical flood plain (Adelaide River, Northern Territory) revealed that rat biomass can reach extraordinary levels (up to 4.7 t km−2). Because their small body size results in high mass-specific metabolic rates, a given biomass of rodents has a several-fold higher total energy requirement than the same mass of large-bodied herbivores. Accordingly, during some years dusky rat biomass can be double that estimated for large herbivores on the world's most productive savannas in eastern and southern Africa. The huge rodent biomass strongly suggests that the Adelaide River flood plain must be an incredibly productive habitat. Considering the immense biological importance of these productive ecosystems, flood plain conservation must be placed high on the priority list of habitats that require immediate protection.
Language eng
DOI 10.1111/j.1442-9993.2006.01564.x
Field of Research 060299 Ecology not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2006, Ecological Society of Australia
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