The ecological basis of life history variation in marsupials

Fisher, Diana O., Owens, Ian P.F., and Johnson, Christopher N. (2001) The ecological basis of life history variation in marsupials. Ecology, 82 (12). pp. 3531-3540.

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Our understanding of the diversity of mammalian life histories is based almost exclusively on eutherian mammals, in which the slow–fast continuum persists even after controlling for effects of body size and phylogeny. In this paper, we use modern comparative methods to test the extent to which this eutherian-based framework can be extrapolated to metatherian mammals. First, we examine the pattern of covariation among life history traits, and second, we test for correlations between variation in life history and variation in six candidate ecological variables: type of diet, extent of intraspecific competition, risk of juvenile mortality, diurnal pattern of activity, arboreality, and rainfall pattern. Even when controlling for body size and phylogeny, we observe a slow–fast continuum in metatherian mammals. Some parameters involved are different from those identified by studies of eutherians, but the underlying relationships among longevity, fecundity, and age at maturity persist. We also show that overall variation in a key life history variable, reproductive output (measured by annual reproductive rate and litter size), is significantly related to variation in type of diet, with a foliage-rich diet being associated with low fecundity. This is interesting because, although ecological correlations have been found within some eutherian subgroups, modern comparative approaches have failed to reveal robust ecological correlates of overall life history diversity in eutherians.

Item ID: 13183
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1939-9170
Keywords: body size; comparative analysis; diet; eutheria; independent contrasts; life history; mammals; marsupials; metatheria; reproductive rate; trade-offs
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2013 04:04
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0699 Other Biological Sciences > 069999 Biological Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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