Effects of food and fire on the demography of a nectar-feeding marsupial: A field experiment

Tulloch, A. I. and Dickman, C. R. (2007) Effects of food and fire on the demography of a nectar-feeding marsupial: A field experiment. Journal of Zoology, 273 2007: 382-388. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.2007.00339.x

Author Tulloch, A. I.
Dickman, C. R.
Title Effects of food and fire on the demography of a nectar-feeding marsupial: A field experiment
Journal name Journal of Zoology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0952-8369
Publication date 2007-12
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1469-7998.2007.00339.x
Volume 273
Issue 2007
Start page 382
End page 388
Total pages 7
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Animals that specialize on nectar can be expected to face shortages of energy at times or in places where floral resources fade. Using a nectar-feeding marsupial, the eastern pygmy-possum Cercartetus nanus as a model, we predicted that animals would respond rapidly to an artificial energy supplement by showing improved body condition and increased local abundance. We also tested the hypothesis that responses would be more pronounced in burnt than in unburnt habitats due to the expectation that food would be limiting after fire. Energy was added in the form of sugar solution to two burnt and two unburnt woodland sites on the New South Wales coast, but not to two sets of equivalent control sites. The responses of pygmy-possums were compared between sites a month before and a month after supplementation during early autumn when flowers were diminishing. The energy supplement increased on-site immigration and a tail-fat index of body condition, but had no overall effect on the abundance or mean body mass of pygmy-possums. There was no effect of habitat; floral abundance was equal across sites. The results show that C. nanus responded rapidly to the energy supplement, and indicate that animals monitor shifts in the resource base continuously. Similar resource tracking abilities have been demonstrated previously in more mobile nectar-feeders, such as honeyeaters and bats. We suggest that such abilities should be generally advantageous in any species that depend on ephemeral resources.
© 2007 The Zoological Society of London.
Keyword Cercartetus nanus
Experimental supplementation
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Unknown

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Created: Tue, 15 Feb 2011, 10:49:12 EST by Ms Ayesha Tulloch on behalf of School of Biological Sciences