Lecture 17- Marsupials: Possums Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Lecture 17- Marsupials: Possums Deck (30):

What is the taxonomy of possums and gliders?

class: Mammalia subclass: Theria order: Diprodontia suborder: Phalangeriformes


What animals are in the order diprodontia wit possums?

kangaroos, wombats and macropods (based on dentition and syndactyly)


How is grooming important in possums?

-otherwise get cold if they do not groom!


Is there lot of diversity in the suborder phalangeriformes?

-yes -4 superfamilies -Petauroidea (remember)


How many species of phalangeriformes are there?

-approx 27 in Australia -33 in mainland PNG and Melanesia (4 shared with Australia)


What morphological diversity do phalangeriformes display?

-5g-4.5kg range in size -gliders have flaps that allow them to glide -different ears etc.


What is the range of habitats of phalangeriformes?

-occur throughout Australia, tropical, temperate, alpine and semi-arid zones -not in extremely arid areas -must have vegetation


How do the diets of phalangeriformes vary?

-some highly specialised, some generalists -vary across species and include: nectar, pollen, sap, fruit, seeds, leaves, insects, fungi, flowers, lichen, bird eggs, small invertebrates


What is the distribution of the common brushtail possum?

-widespread across huge range of environments -not in central Australia probably -do well in suburbs, in forests much lower density


What is the distribution of the mountain pygmy possum?

-highly specialised alpine species (VIC+NSW) -rare animal, thought it was extinct but not (1960s) -development of ski runs and global climate change= big danger


What species are in the superfamily Petauroidea?

-3 genuses 1.Petaurus 4 species(gliders), very social, feed on nectar and insects 2.Gymnobelidus 1sp (no gliding, jumping instead) Leadbeater's possum 3.Dactylopsila= striped possums (also no gliding, jumping instead)


What are the distribution and habitat requirements for common striped possum?

-broad distribution AUstralia and PNG (mostly the north of Queensland and PNG) -closed forests (rainforests) -it is an australasian species


What is true of mammals with increasing body weight?

-increase area required -IMPORTANT -larger animals have larger home ranges


Do herbivores or insectivores need larger area?



What are the unusual characteristics of striped possums? (3)

1. Klinorhynchy (rounded cranium)-withstand higher pressure on the skull 2. Large procumbent lower incisors (move independently of each other) 3. Tongue and 4th finger elongated


In what forests do striped possums live?

-closed forest (+ open forest associated with closed forest)


What is the diet of striped possums?

-insectivorous -get some grubs from wood= have to get them from the trees= the usage of the finger and long tongue etc.


What are the area range required for striped possum?

-males= 150ha+ - females approx. 40ha -more solitary than the other petaurids -much larger home ranges than other petaurids


How many species are there of brushtail possums?

-3 species (but 2 may not be separated actually) -1 genus -family phalengeridae


What are the 4 types of mating systems?

1. Polygyny 2. Polyandry 3. Promiscuity 4. Monogamy -common patterns in mammals and birds


What is polygyny?

prolonged association and exclusive mating, 1 male and 2 or more females


What is polyandry?

prolonged association and exclusive mating, 1 female and 2 or more males


What is promiscuity?

no prolonged association, multiple mating by at least one sex


What is monogamy?

prolonged association and exclusive mating of 1 male and 1 females (pairing)


How do resources influence mating systems and home ranges?

-it is driven by resources

-if abundant resources= then male can easily cover home ranges of more females but if limited= then 1:1

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What are the characteristics of Bobucks (Mt. Brushtail possums)?

-live in tall wet forest -adults 2.5-4kg (VIC largest possum) -diet: silver wattle, fungi -rest in tree hollows -one young per year ( common brushtail have 2) -sedentary -need big trees= big hollows -so must be old trees in the forest -babies stay with parents fro up to 18 months -males are the dispersing sex -the females often larger than males


How were pairs of Bobucks observed to behave?

-pairing, strongly associated with each other -den trees= sometimes together sometimes on another -the baby is wither with male or female= both parents take care of the baby -males disperse, females stay so all in one place are related, the males are genetically distinct -each pair has exclusive use of suite of den trees -pair members=share dens 70% of the time -big overlap between pair members 78%


What are the characteristics of the forest population of the Bobucks?

-socially monogamous -exclusive use of den trees by the pair -den sharing (among the pair) -high degree of home range overlap -close proximity of pair members while active -females pair at about 2-5 years -pair bonds ended only after death of one pair member


What are the characteristics of the roadside population of the Bobucks?



How come the roadside and forest Bobuck populations differ in social structure?

-more hollowbearing trees and more silver wattle in the roadside habitat so the females have smaller home ranges and the males can cover more and protect the range -the resources influence female range, that influences male behaviour and that impacts social system