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Energy allocation for reproduction in a marsupial arboreal folivore, the common ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus)


Munks, SA and Green, B, Energy allocation for reproduction in a marsupial arboreal folivore, the common ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus), Oecologia, 101, (1) pp. 94-104. ISSN 0029-8549 (1995) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1007/BF00328905


This study examines the annual energetics of a small folivorous marsupial, Pseudocheirus peregrinus. Particular attention was given to the energy and time allocated to reproduction by the females. Daily energy expenditure was measured directly using the doubly labelled water technique. Energy transferred to the young via the milk was estimated from information on milk composition and production. There was no significant seasonal variation in the energy expenditure or water influx of males or females. The mean daily energy expenditure of a 1-kg non-lactating adult ringtail possum was 615 kJ day-1 or 2.2 times standard metabolic rate. Females showed significant changes in daily energy expenditure according to their reproductive status. Without the burden of lactation the total annual energy expenditure of an adult female was estimated as 212.4 MJ kg-1 year-1. The total annual energy expenditure of a female rearing two young was 247.5 MJ kg-1 year-1, with the late stage of lactation constituting the most energetically expensive period accounting for 30% of the total yearly energy expenditure during 24% of the time. Total metabolisable energy allocation during reproduction (22 MJ kg) was similar to estimates available for other herbivores, although, the peak metabolisable energy allocation during lactation (759 kJ day-1) was lower than values available for other herbivores. The total energy requirement for reproduction (metabolisable energy plus potential energy exported to young via milk) suggests that the ringtail possum also has a relatively low overall energy investment in reproduction. It is suggested that the lactational strategy of the ringtail possum has been selected in order to spread the energy demands of reproduction over time due to constraints on the rate of energy intake imposed by a leaf diet and/or to prolong the mother-young bond. The strategies a female ringtail possum may employ to achieve energy balance when faced with the energy demands of reproduction are discussed. © 1995 Springer Verlag.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Zoology
Research Field:Zoology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences
UTAS Author:Munks, SA (Dr Sarah Munks)
ID Code:5451
Year Published:1995
Web of Science® Times Cited:26
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:1995-08-01
Last Modified:2011-08-24

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