The silver-headed antechinus is a small carnivorous marsupial. The species has a small head, large ears and narrow snout. The head, neck and shoulders are silver-grey, merging gradually through olive-grey to deep olive-grey on the flanks, rump and upper surface of the tail base. The belly is green-yellow-grey, grey to olive-grey. The species has pale, slightly broken eye rings and pale silver feet. The tail is bicoloured, darker on top and lighter underneath, with both sides getter darker towards the tip. Females have a pouch with eight nipples. The species is sexually dimorphic for size, with males two times heavier than females. Males weigh 40-46 g, while females weigh 20-23 g
Silver-headed Antechinus |
Status: Endangered on the EPBC Act list
Government evidence of impact of climate change:
Australian Government, Conservation Advice, Antechinus argentus
Threats As the silver headed antechinus is restricted to high altitude open forest habitat and has reached its altitudinal limits within its known distribution; the key threatening process is altitudinal shift of suitable habitat as a result of human induced climate change (A Baker pers. comm. 2017e).
It is projected with high confidence that climate change will result in a harsher fire weather climate (CSIRO BoM 2017).
That is; with climate change there is likely to be an increase in the frequency of very high and extreme fire risk weather days.
As the species is occupying the highest elevation open forest habitat within its known distribution; there is no opportunity for additional altitudinal shift by the species to compensate for the continued warming as a result of human induced climate change (I Gynther pers. comm. 2017).
Climate change and fire are suspected to be drivers of population decline.
The silver headed antechinus occurs in an ecologically distinct area in which all subpopulations are threatened by climate change.
The area of occupancy and area; extent and quality of habitat for the species are considered to be declining due to the threat of fire; climate change and introduced species (A Baker pers. comm. 2017e H Hines pers. comm. 2017).
Increased frequency and intensity of fire events and predation by introduced predators are suspected to threaten the abundance of silver headed antechinus.
Threat factor Threat type Evidence base and status Fire Increased suspected Studies of other Antechinus species show that abundance is frequency and current positively related to complex vegetation structure and high intensity of fire litter cover (i.e.
Lantana poses a threat to the silver headed antechinus through the potential to alter habitat structure; invertebrate populations and fire regimes (Baker et al. 2013).
In addition; the intensity; frequency and events duration of extreme weather events are projected to increase with high confidence (CSIRO BoM 2017).