The success of marsupials as introduced species

  • D. P. Gilmore
Chapter
Part of the Studies in Biology, Economy and Society book series

Abstract

Marsupials are frequently regarded as inferior and archaic in comparison with their placental counterparts. However, certain marsupials have proved themselves to be capable of not only holding their own, but also rapidly extending their range when introduced into a new environment. This is clearly shown by the successful establishment and rapid spread of the Brush-tailed possum, Trichosurus vulpecula, in New Zealand and the colonisation of certain localities there by six species of wallaby (Figure 10.1) a species of wallaby, Petrogale penicillata, is also firmly entrenched on the island of Oahu in the Hawaiian group. In Britain wallabies are successfully established both in the Peak District and in the vicinity of Ashdown Forest, Sussex, and there are large free-ranging groups within the perimeter fences of Whipsnade Zoo, and at Prince Reuss’s Estate in the Black Forest, Germany. Natural spread of numerous marsupials, especially the phalangerids, has also occurred from Australia to New Guinea and on as far as the Solomons to the north-east, Talaut to the north and the Celebes to the west. In North America the opossum, Didelphis virginiana, has extended its range northwards for hundreds of kilometres in historic times. This opossum adapts well to suburban living, too, and has been successfully introduced to some areas of the western United States.

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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1977

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  • D. P. Gilmore

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