In New Guinea, the habitats of a number of species are linked to altitude. For example, all three Microperoryctes mouse bandicoots are found above 3,500 ft (1,000 m). The high-altitude species are confined to primary rainforest. Among the lowland species of New Guinea and those of Australia, there is evidence that bandicoots can occupy an extremely wide range of habitats.
If there is a linking factor between species of Australia and the New Guinea lowlands, it is their preference for habitats that are temporary by nature. Areas that have been recently burned or cleared, such as light scrub or heath, generally have a wider variety of vegetation and a greater number of invertebrates than more established habitats. These temporary, often ecotonal, habitats are quickly occupied by bandicoots. Such exploitation explains the ready colonization of low-
intensity farmland in New Guinea and suburban towns and cities of Australia. The downside to such opportunism is the bandicoot's reliance on a mosaic of vegetation at different stages of growth. If these become isolated or fragmented, animals are unable to disperse at the point when a particular habitat becomes unsuitable.
Was this article helpful?