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Mammals of Victoria


A Report on the Mammals of Victoria

There are 139 mammal species known from Victoria. These consist of native terrestrial mammals, marine mammals and those introduced terrestrial mammals that live in the wild. Some are localised in just a few districts, while others are widespread throughout the state. However, in the case of native mammals, almost all are now much more restricted in their range than was the case prior to European settlement, and many are classified as endangered.

The production of a report on the mammals of Victoria as a class project will provide students with an understanding of the distribution and environmental requirements of a fascinating part of Victoria's wildlife, while introducing them to the potential of bioinformatics. The project can be easily organised by allocating one or several species of mammal to each student to research through the database, and supplementing this with additional information from library or web resources. When the students have finished their research, the results could be presented as short individual reports on each mammal species, and then summarised as a class poster or publication.

1. A List of Victoria's Mammals

To obtain a complete list of Victoria's mammals, click on the link below and choose the bottom menu entitled 'Genus & Species Name'.

Look at the complete list in this menu, and choose one or more mammals for each student. A free choice may be possible, or you may wish to ensure that a sample of native terrestrial mammals (91 spp.), introduced terrestrial mammals (17 spp.) and marine mammals (31 spp.) is chosen. (For lists of species for these three groups, use the top of the central menu entitled 'Groups'). Allocate one (or more) mammal species to each class member, and you are ready to proceed to the next step. From this point, each student does their own research on the mammal(s) they have been allocated-either working alone, or with teacher guidance as appropriate.

2. Name and Classification

(a) Note the scientific name (genus and species) and common name of your mammal. This information can be obtained by using the link in Step 1 (above).

(b) How do scientists classify the mammal you are researching? Note and discuss the 'Parental Lineage' or 'Family Tree' for the mammal you are researching.

(c) Does the mammal you are researching have any close relatives? Note the Family and Order it belongs to from the 'Family Tree' above, and then click on the link below.

Scroll down until you find the menu entitled 'Family and Generic Names'. Enter the Family name of your mammal to obtain a list of Victorian mammals that are closely related to the one you are researching. (Do any of these mammals have the same generic name as your mammal? If they do, they are very close relatives of your mammal.)

(d) You may wish to see if your mammal has any more distant relatives in Victoria, particularly if you have discovered that there are no other mammals in its Genus or Family in Victoria. Scroll up until you find a menu entitled 'Order'; enter the name of the Order to which your mammal belongs and note the names of the mammals in the list you obtain.

(e) Find out what the scientific name (Genus and Species) of your mammal means. Click on the link below, scroll down to the bottom menu ('Genus & Species Name') and enter the scientific name of your mammal.

3. Diet and Reproduction

What does your mammal eat, and how does it reproduce? Scroll down to the bottom menu ('Genus & Species Name') and enter the name of your mammal.

4. Conservation Status

Many native mammals in Victoria are endangered. What is the conservation status of the mammal you are researching? Click on the link below, scroll down to the Genus & Species menu and enter the name of your mammal. What is its conservation status? Is it extinct in Victoria? (Does an 'E" appear alongside its name?)

A full list of the 23 mammals that have become extinct in Victoria since European settlement is available via the link below:

5. Threatened Species and Victoria's Parks

If your mammal is threatened, is it protected in one of Victoria's parks? Click on the link below and enter the name of your mammal under the Genus & Species Name menu to find out.

6. Distribution Maps

Where does your mammal occur in Victoria? Enter its name via the link below to obtain a map showing its distribution in Victoria. Select and study additional maps showing the mammal's distribution according to vegetation types, rainfall, rivers, altitude and zoogeographic zones. After studying each map, try to describe what you have learned about where your mammal is distributed in Victoria and the type of habitat it favours.

7. Monthly Observation Data

In which months has your mammal been seen most frequently/least frequently? Enter the name of your mammal using the link below and find out.

Can you explain the monthly observation pattern? Does your mammal wander about more frequently at certain times of the year? (Or have the scientists carried out more field trips at certain times of the year?)

8. Observation Data Over Decades

During which decades has your mammal been seen most frequently/least frequently? Is there a pattern of increasing/decreasing sightings? Enter the name of your mammal via the link below to find out.

Can you explain the pattern of observations? Has the population of your mammal in Victoria increased or decreased over the decades? (Or have scientists carried out more field trips during certain decades?)

9. Images

To obtain one or several images of your chosen mammal, enter the name of the mammal via the link below. Click on the single thumbnail image that is returned to gain access to all available images. These images can then be enlarged by clicking on them.

For many mammals, there will be several images of live animals, images of the skull and jaws, images of feet, and perhaps an image of a John Gould print (published in 1863). Look closely at the images of your mammal (including teeth and jaws,) and try to relate its physiology to its diet and habitat.

10. Viewing Specimens of Your Mammal

It is a good idea to try to view some actual specimens of the mammal you are researching. You may be able to join a field trip at one of Victoria's parks, which could enable you to see your animal in the wild. As many of our mammals are nocturnal, this could be a spotlighting expedition, after dark. You may also be able to see live specimens at Melbourne Zoo or at a wildlife park, such as Healesville Sanctuary. In addition, preserved specimens may be on display at Melbourne Museum.

11. Your Report

You may decide to supplement the data you have obtained with information from the Internet or from reference books in your library. Once you feel you have enough material, you are ready to write a report on your mammal. This could be presented as a printed document, a poster or a PowerPoint presentation.

Once the individual reports are ready, a comprehensive report on 'The Mammals of Victoria' can be put together. This could be done in a variety of ways, including

  • a series of posters
  • a talk to your class or to other classes
  • a presentation on the local radio station
  • an article for the school magazine or local paper

12. The Mammals of Two Victorian Districts (Appendix)

Victoria's mammals, including those you are researching, are not evenly spread across Victoria. Many occur in some districts but not in others. In your comprehensive report, you may wish to include some information about the variation in the distribution of mammals across the state. This could be added as an appendix to your report on the Mammals of Victoria.

Compare the mammals of two Victorian districts by clicking on the link below and selecting two districts. Make sure that the districts you choose are very different from each other (coastal cf. inland, high rainfall cf. low rainfall, plains cf. alpine, urban cf. rural).

You are also able to compare the lists of mammals for two suburbs. Choose parts of Melbourne that are very different from each other (eg. coastal cf. basalt plains, western suburbs cf. Dandenongs).

Which mammals are common to both lists? Which mammals are found in one district/suburb but not in the other? Which district has the greater mammal diversity? From what you know of the characteristics of the two districts, can you suggest some hypotheses to account for the variation in mammal lists?

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