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The secret life of possums: data loggers reveal the movement ecology of an arboreal mammal

journal contribution
posted on 2019-02-01, 00:00 authored by Blake AllanBlake Allan, Dale G Nimmo, John ArnouldJohn Arnould, Jennifer K Martin, Euan RitchieEuan Ritchie
Understanding animal movement patterns is fundamental to ecology, as it allows inference about species’ habitat preferences and their niches. Such knowledge also underpins our ability to predict how animals may respond to environmental change, including habitat loss and modification. Data-logging devices such as GPS trackers and accelerometers are rapidly becoming cheaper and smaller, allowing movement at fine scales to be recorded on a broad range of animal species. We examined movement patterns of an arboreal mammal (bobuck, Trichosurus cunninghami) in a highly fragmented forest ecosystem. The GPS data showed males travelled greater distances than females in linear roadside strip habitats, but not in forest fragments. The accelerometer data showed that both sexes exhibited higher activity levels in roadside habitats compared to forest fragments. By coupling GPS and accelerometer data, we uncovered for this species an ecological pattern similar to other mammals: that male bobucks had higher activity levels than females for a given distance travelled. Our findings also suggest that habitat fragmentation changes the amount and type of activity bobucks perform while moving, and that linear forest strips could be considered “energetically challenging” habitats, which informs how we should manage the spatial distribution of key supplementary resources for this species such as nest sites and minimum fragment sizes.

History

Journal

Journal of Mammalogy

Volume

100

Issue

1

Pagination

158 - 168

Publisher

Oxford University Press

Location

Oxford, Eng.

ISSN

0022-2372

Language

eng

Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2018, American Society of Mammalogists