Mahogany Gliders are a relatively large arboreal gliding marsupial with adult males weighing 350–500 g and adult females weighing 310–454 g. The head and body length is 230–275 mm for males and 225–270 mm for females; the tail length is between 335–405 mm (Van Dyck & Strahan 2008).
Mahogany Gliders vary in colour from overall mahogany brown (dorsal and ventral), to a buff to apricot belly (Van Dyck & Strahan 2008). The top of the head is pale and has a dark stripe extending to their rump (DEWHA 2008zzm; Qld EPA 2009). The lower half of the Mahogany Glider's tail is black (Van Dyck 1993b). The tail is used for stability during glides and especially during landing (Qld EPA 2009).
Mahogany Glider's appear to be restricted to lowland eucalypt woodland in the area between the Herbert River basin to the Tully River basin (Van Dyck 1993b). The woodland vegetation is shaped and maintained by fire and dominated by Bloodwoods (Corymbia and Eucalyptus) and Acacia spp. (Smith 1996). An open vegetation structure needs to be maintained to facilitate gliding (Qld EPA 2009). Gliders avoid rainforest (Qld EPA 2009).
The following habitat types have been identified as being used by the Mahogany Glider (Jackson et al. 2011):
- Mixed Open Forest with at least one species of bloodwood (Corymbia spp.), Forest Red Gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis), Large-fruited Red Mahogany (E. pellita), one or two species of Melaleuca, several species of Acacia, Xanthorrhoea johnsonii and Forest Siris (Albizia procera). This habitat type can support the Mahogany Glider throughout the year.
- Mixed Woodland which contains at least three of the tree species in the Mixed Open Forest, but insufficient diversity to provide food throughout the year. This habitat type provides den sites and important seasonal food requirements.
- Monotypic Stands which contain one or two of the tree species in the Mixed Open Forest.
- Emergents at the rainforest edge may provide shelter and food resources, especially for populations living in highly fragmented landscapes.
Climate and altitude
The Mahogany Glider occurs in an area of very high seasonal precipitation (Smith 1996).
Over 98% of Mahogany Glider sightings have been recorded at altitudes below 120 m elevation (Blackman et al. 1994 cited in DEWHA 2008zzm; Van Dyck & Strahan 2008). Sightings above 120 m (maximum 200 m) are limited to spotlight records in Lannercost State Forest and the headwaters of the Stone River, Seaview Range. A three-week trapping survey, over the Mt Fox section of Girringun National Park at altitudes between 80–460 m, detected Mahogany Gliders at only 100–120 m elevation (EPA 2005 unpub. data cited in DEWHA 2008zzm).
The main determinants of suitable habitat appear to be the presence of a sufficient variety of flowering plant species to provide year-round food (Van Dyck 1993b).
Available habitat consists of a mosaic of fragments, some connected by corridors, in an area approximately 20% of its potential former range (Qld EPA 1998). Climatic modelling of the species' known range indicates that additional potential habitat might occur on Hinchinbrook and Palm Islands (Jackson & Claridge 1999).
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