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Male-biased predation and its effect on paternity skew and life history in a population of common brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula)

DeGabriel, Jane L.; Moore, Ben D.; Foley, William J.; Johnson, Christopher N.

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Differences in predation risk may exert strong selective pressures on life history strategies of populations. We investigated the potential for predation to shape male mating strategies in an arboreal folivore, the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula Kerr). We predicted that possums in a tropical population exposed to high natural levels of predation would grow faster and reproduce earlier compared to those in temperate populations with lower predation. We trapped a population of...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorDeGabriel, Jane L.
dc.contributor.authorMoore, Ben D.
dc.contributor.authorFoley, William J.
dc.contributor.authorJohnson, Christopher N.
dc.date.accessioned2015-11-03T23:05:01Z
dc.date.available2015-11-03T23:05:01Z
dc.identifier.issn1932-6203
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/16308
dc.description.abstractDifferences in predation risk may exert strong selective pressures on life history strategies of populations. We investigated the potential for predation to shape male mating strategies in an arboreal folivore, the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula Kerr). We predicted that possums in a tropical population exposed to high natural levels of predation would grow faster and reproduce earlier compared to those in temperate populations with lower predation. We trapped a population of possums in eucalypt woodland in northern Australia each month to measure life history traits and used microsatellites to genotype all individuals and assign paternity to all offspring. We observed very high levels of male-biased predation, with almost 60% of marked male possums being eaten by pythons, presumably as a result of their greater mobility due to mate-searching. Male reproductive success was also highly skewed, with younger, larger males fathering significantly more offspring. This result contrasts with previous studies of temperate populations experiencing low levels of predation, where older males were larger and the most reproductively successful. Our results suggest that in populations exposed to high levels of predation, male possums invest in increased growth earlier in life, in order to maximise their mating potential. This strategy is feasible because predation limits competition from older males and means that delaying reproduction carries a risk of failing to reproduce at all. Our results show that life histories are variable traits that can match regional predation environments in mammal species with widespread distributions.
dc.description.sponsorshipThis work was supported by the Australian Research Council http://www.arc.gov.au/ Grant number DP0449621 to CNJ, DP0449544 to WJF. JLD was supported by an Australian National University Graduate School Scholarship.
dc.format8 pages
dc.publisherPublic Library of Science
dc.rights© 2014 DeGabriel et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
dc.sourcePLoS ONE
dc.subjectanimals
dc.subjectfemale
dc.subjectgenetic variation
dc.subjectmale
dc.subjectmicrosatellite repeats
dc.subjectreproduction
dc.subjectlife cycle stages
dc.subjectpaternity
dc.subjecttrichosurus
dc.titleMale-biased predation and its effect on paternity skew and life history in a population of common brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula)
dc.typeJournal article
local.description.notesImported from ARIES
local.identifier.citationvolume9
dcterms.dateAccepted2014-10-06
dc.date.issued2014-11-05
local.identifier.absfor060208
local.identifier.ariespublicationU3488905xPUB4956
local.publisher.urlhttps://www.plos.org/
local.type.statusPublished Version
local.contributor.affiliationDe Gabriel, Jane, College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, CMBE Research School of Biology, Division of Evolution, Ecology & Genetics, The Australian National University
local.contributor.affiliationMoore, Ben, James Cook University, Australia
local.contributor.affiliationFoley, William, College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, CMBE Research School of Biology, Division of Evolution, Ecology & Genetics, The Australian National University
local.contributor.affiliationJohnson, Christopher, James Cook University, Australia
dc.relationhttp://purl.org/au-research/grants/arc/DP0449621
dc.relationhttp://purl.org/au-research/grants/arc/DP0449544
local.identifier.essn1932-6203
local.bibliographicCitation.issue11
local.bibliographicCitation.startpagee111746
local.identifier.doi10.1371/journal.pone.0111746
local.identifier.absseo960806
dc.date.updated2015-12-11T09:19:34Z
local.identifier.scopusID2-s2.0-84910145348
local.identifier.thomsonID000344556900072
CollectionsANU Research Publications

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