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

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 09:52 authored by Sarah MunksSarah Munks, Green, B
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.


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School of Natural Sciences



Place of publication

Berlin, Germany

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Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences

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