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

Blake M. Allan, Dale G. Nimmo, John P.Y. Arnould, Jennifer K. Martin, Euan G. Ritchie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-168
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Mammalogy
Volume100
Issue number1
Early online date11 Dec 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2019

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