Echymipera kalubuKalubu echymipera

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Geographic Range

Echymipera kalubu is found in New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago, and Mysol Island. It is most abundant in lowland New Guinea. Nowak (1991)

Habitat

The habitats of E. kalubu are diverse. It is principally a forest species, but it has been found to occupy marshy grassland and coffee plantations. The animal becomes rarer at higher elevation. Within the forest, E. kalubu tunnel underneath the false floor of rotting vegetation in a pit-pit stand. Intensive activity is thus associated with recent tree fall and subsequent dense growth of secondary vegetation. Favorite places of foraging include decayed logs, gardens, and pit-pit. The animals can travel up to 1,550 meters or cover 0.5 hectare per night. Flannery (1995), Nowak (1991)

Physical Description

Echymipera kalubu is a relatively small mammal that slightly resembles a mouse but with distinctly marsupial features. Its combined head and body length ranges from 225 mm to 380 mm, and its tail length averages 75 mm. It has a long slender snout and stiff, spiny pelage. The dorsal section of the body varies in color, including bright reddish brown, dark coppery brown, black mixed with yellow, or black interspersed with tawny. The anterior section is usually buffy or brownish. It may be difficult to distinguish E. kalubu from related species E. rufescens and E. clara, but Flannery (1985) noted at least five characteristics unique to E. kalubu: 1) the lack of any trace of a black pad on the foot; 2) the presence of guard hairs of which only 1/5 are light-tipped; 3 ) its shorter, more rounder ears; 4) a shorter naked muzzle; and 5) a distinct crown on the head. Flannery (1995), Nowak (1991)

  • Average mass
    650 g
    22.91 oz
    AnAge

Reproduction

Echymipera kalubu is very fecund as breeding occurs throughout the year and begins at a very early age. Females can carry young when they reach as little as 450 grams, and males reach sexual maturity, with testes fully developed, at 300-500 grams. The gestation period for E. kalubu is 120 days and frequently, one to three young are found in the female's pouch. Anderson, et al. (1988), Flannery (1995)

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual

Behavior

Information on the social and reproductive behavior of E. kalubu is limited. It is a solitary and territorial species, however foraging ranges of individuals were found to overlap. Current evidence strongly indicates that E. kalubu are unable to tolerate their own species. In one study, when three individuals were placed together in one cage, one was promptly killed and partly eaten. The species is active only at night. Its relative abundance is attributed to its nocturnal foraging habit, securing it from the many diurnal predators.

Flannery (1995)

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Echymipera kalubu is a true omnivore. The species feed on invertebrates (e.g. insect grubs, earthworms, snails, slugs) and fruits (e.g. fallen banana bunches and papaya). Flannery (1985) recently suggested that these animals may be slightly more frugivorous than expected, as stomach contents consist mainly of seeds and fruit pulp. Anderson, Berry, Amos, Cook(1988)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Historically, E. kalubu was not a vital economic resource to humans. In the Madong area, it was sporadically hunted by burning Kunai grasslands. Flannery (1995)

Conservation Status

Echymipera kalubu is not a threatened species and is considered one of the more common mammals in New Guinea. However, one researcher (Flannery 1995) noticed a drastic decline of the species in the village of Betaviyp near Yapsiei, Sandaun Province, from 1984 to 1986. The introduction of predatory cats in 1984 and 1985 was believed to be the cause of their decline. Anderson et al. (1988), Flannery (1995)

Contributors

Nghi Tran (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

tactile

uses touch to communicate

References

Anderson, T.J., Berry, A., Amos,J., and Cook,J. 1988. Spool and Line Tracking of the New Guinea Spiny Bandicoots, E. Kalubu. Journal of Mammalogy 69:114-120.

Flannery, T. 1995. Mammals of New Guinea. Comstock, Cornell Publications.

Nowak, R.M. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World. Fifth Edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.