Taxonomy and redescription of the Swamp Antechinus, Antechinus minimus (È. Geoffroy) (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae)


Taxonomy and redescription of the Swamp Antechinus, Antechinus minimus (È. Geoffroy) (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae) (2106 KB) pdf document icon


Baker, A.M. & Van Dyck, S.


Baker, A.M. & Van Dyck, S. 2015. Taxonomy and redescription of the Swamp Antechinus, Antechinus minimus (È. Geoffroy) (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae). Memoirs of the Queensland Museum – Nature 59: 127-170.

Accepted 25 November 2014
Published online 31 July 2015
Peer reviewed:



Keywords Marsupialia, Dasyuridae, dasyurid, carnivorous marsupial, Australia.


We provide a taxonomic redescription of the dasyurid marsupial Swamp Antechinus, Antechinus minimus (Geoffroy, 1803). In the past, A. minimus has been classified as two subspecies: the nominate A. minimus minimus (Geoffroy, 1803), which is found throughout much of Tasmania (including southern Bass Strait islands) and A. minimus maritimus (Finlayson, 1958), which is found on mainland Australia (as well as some near-coastal islands) and is patchily distributed in mostly coastal areas between South Gippsland (Victoria) and Robe (South Australia). Based on an assessment of morphology and DNA, we conclude that A. minimus is both distinctly different from all extant congeners and that the two existing subspecies of Swamp Antechinus are appropriately taxonomically characterised. In our genetic phylogenies, the Swamp Antechinus was monophyletic with respect to all 14 known extant congeners; moreover, A. minimus was well-positioned in a large clade, together with all four species in the Dusky Antechinus complex, to the exclusion of all other antechinus. Within A. minimus, between subspecies there were subtle morphological differences (A. m. maritimus skulls tend to be broader, with larger molar teeth, than A. m. minimus, but these differences were not significant); there was distinct, but only moderately deep genetic differences (3.9–4.5% at mtDNA) between A. minimus subspecies. Comparatively, across Bass Strait, the two subspecies of A. minimus are morphologically and genetically markedly less divergent than recently recognised species pairs within the Dusky Antechinus complex, found in Victoria (A. mimetes) and Tasmania (A. swainsonii) (9.4–11.6% divergent at mtDNA)