Oral presentation- Open Session 12th International Mammalogical Congress

A new method to find environmental mechanisms of life history evolution in insectivorous mammals (#318)

Diana O Fisher 1 , Menna E Jones 2 , Christopher R Dickman 3 , Teigan Cremona 4 , Yolarnie Amepou 5 , Euan Ritchie 6 , Dale Nimmo 6 , Enock Kale 7 , Dave Watson 8 , Bobby Tamayo 3 , Rodrigo Hamede 2 , Conrad Hoskin 9 , Megan Higgie 9 , J Anthony Friend 10
  1. University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia
  2. Zoology, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  3. School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  4. University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  5. University of Canberra, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
  6. Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, Australia
  7. Papua New Guinea Institute of Biological Resources, Goroka, Papua New Guinea
  8. Charles Sturt University, Albury, New South Wales, Australia
  9. James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
  10. Science and Conservation, WA Department of Parks and Wildlife, Albany, Western Australia, Australia

Temporal variation in food availability shapes the life history strategies of female mammals. Females are assumed to gain fitness benefits from matching births with annual or seasonal peaks in food abundance, thereby increasing their ability to meet the maximum energetic demands of lactation. Selection for synchronised seasonal breeding results when young born outside the peak birth period face long-term disadvantage. Overall food abundance affects reproductive rate and other life history traits. In mammals, most studies on these topics have been on herbivorous species. We know little about food availability on a macroecological scale and its life history consequences for insectivorous mammals. We present a standardised method to record long-term but detailed food availability for insectivorous mammals. We used horizontally-set, programmable time-lapse camera traps with a close focal distance and white led flash. We have deployed cameras at sites throughout Australia (and 2 in PNG) since 2013. These are revealing how arthropod seasonality and abundance are related to latitude, mean and variation in rainfall and temperature, substrate and vegetation; helping to increase understanding of the underlying environmental mechanisms of life history evolution in female dasyurid marsupials at a macro-ecological scale.