Body size, age and paternity in common brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula )

M Clinchy, A C Taylor, LY Zanette, Charles KREBS, PJ Jarman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Sexual selection should produce sexual size dimorphism in species where larger members of one sex obtain disproportionately more matings. Recent theory suggests that the degree of sexual size dimorphism depends on physical and temporal constraints involving the operational sex ratio, the potential reproductive rate and the trade-off between current reproductive effort and residual reproductive value. As part of a large-scale experiment on dispersal, we investigated the mating system of common brushtail possums inhabiting old-growth Eucalyptus forest in Australia. Paternity was assigned to 20 of 28 pouch-young (maternity known) genotyped at six microsatellite loci. Male mating success was strongly related to body size and age; male body weight and age being highly correlated. Despite disproportionate mating success favouring larger males, sexual size dimorphism was only apparent among older animals. Trapping and telemetry indicated that the operational sex ratio was effectively 1 : 1 and the potential reproductive rate of males was at most four times that of females. Being larger appeared to entail significant survival costs because males ‘died-off’ at the age at which sexual size dimorphism became apparent (8–9 years). Male and female home ranges were the same size and males appeared to be as sedentary as females. Moreover, longevity appears to be only slightly less important to male reproductive success than it is to females. It is suggested that a sedentary lifestyle and longevity are the key elements constraining selection for greater sexual size dimorphism in this ‘model’ medium-sized Australian marsupial herbivore
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-202
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Ecology
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

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Trichosurus
Trichosurus vulpecula
paternity
Body Size
body size
dimorphism
Sex Characteristics
reproductive potential
mating success
Sex Ratio
sex ratio
Homing Behavior
Sedentary Lifestyle
Marsupialia
Eucalyptus
Telemetry
Herbivory
possums
reproductive effort
marsupial

Cite this

Clinchy, M ; Taylor, A C ; Zanette, LY ; KREBS, Charles ; Jarman, PJ. / Body size, age and paternity in common brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula ). In: Molecular Ecology. 2004 ; Vol. 13, No. 1. pp. 195-202.
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abstract = "Sexual selection should produce sexual size dimorphism in species where larger members of one sex obtain disproportionately more matings. Recent theory suggests that the degree of sexual size dimorphism depends on physical and temporal constraints involving the operational sex ratio, the potential reproductive rate and the trade-off between current reproductive effort and residual reproductive value. As part of a large-scale experiment on dispersal, we investigated the mating system of common brushtail possums inhabiting old-growth Eucalyptus forest in Australia. Paternity was assigned to 20 of 28 pouch-young (maternity known) genotyped at six microsatellite loci. Male mating success was strongly related to body size and age; male body weight and age being highly correlated. Despite disproportionate mating success favouring larger males, sexual size dimorphism was only apparent among older animals. Trapping and telemetry indicated that the operational sex ratio was effectively 1 : 1 and the potential reproductive rate of males was at most four times that of females. Being larger appeared to entail significant survival costs because males ‘died-off’ at the age at which sexual size dimorphism became apparent (8–9 years). Male and female home ranges were the same size and males appeared to be as sedentary as females. Moreover, longevity appears to be only slightly less important to male reproductive success than it is to females. It is suggested that a sedentary lifestyle and longevity are the key elements constraining selection for greater sexual size dimorphism in this ‘model’ medium-sized Australian marsupial herbivore",
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Clinchy, M, Taylor, AC, Zanette, LY, KREBS, C & Jarman, PJ 2004, 'Body size, age and paternity in common brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula )', Molecular Ecology, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 195-202. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-294X.2003.02029.x

Body size, age and paternity in common brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula ). / Clinchy, M; Taylor, A C; Zanette, LY; KREBS, Charles; Jarman, PJ.

In: Molecular Ecology, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2004, p. 195-202.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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