Meeting Abstract

P3.128  Friday, Jan. 6  Death after Sex in the Australian Bush: determinants of survival and reproduction in males of the world’s largest semelparous mammal HEINIGER, J*; VAN UITREGT, V; WILSON, Robbie; The University of Queensland; The University of Queensland; The University of Queensland

The northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus) is a medium-sized (approx. 1 kg) predatory marsupial previously common across the entire top-end of Australia. This species is the largest known semelparous mammal in the world, which means mating is highly synchronous, males live for only one year, and males undergo total die-offs soon after the mating season. Such population-wide male die-offs are presumably due to the physiological stress of procuring copulations and the intense fighting among males. A small proportion of females will survive to produce a second litter, but there are no documented cases of survival to a third breeding season. The young are born after a short gestation period and then carried in a rudimentary pouch for approximately 60-70 days. Females will then leave young in dens while they forage, returning to suckle until young are independent at 4 – 5 months. Both sexes are solitary throughout the year with a home range averaging 35 ha for females and approximately 100 ha for males during the breeding season but varies greatly between individuals. During out study, we will be investigating the morphological and performance determinants of both survival to reproductive-age and fecundity among males of this species on Groote Eylandt, an Indigenous-managed island off the coast of the Northern Territory. Northern quolls are still highly abundant on this island and this population offers a unique opportunity to understand the evolution of this extreme mating system and the role physical performance plays in the reproductive success of males.