Meeting Abstract

30.2  Friday, Jan. 4  The frenetic sex life of male northern quolls: does performance degrade when the sex becomes too demanding? HEINIGER, J*; DICKMAN, C; WILSON, R S; The University of Queensland; University of Sydney; The University of Queensland r.wilson@uq.edu.au

The northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus) is a medium-sized (approx. 1 kg) predatory marsupial previously common across the entire top-end of Australia. It 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 most likely due to the physiological stress of procuring copulations and the intense fighting among males. Given the importance of procuring mates in such a short period (approx. 2 weeks), the ability for males to win fights and cover long distances to find reproductively mature females is presumably of critical importance. As such we would expect the performance of males of high quality males to be high throughout the breeding season while those of poor quality males rapidly decrease. We explored this idea using a mark-recapture study of more than 150 individual northern quolls located within a 125ha area on Groote Eylandt. For each individual, we measured the morphology, growth, maximum bite force and maximum running speed throughout their life cycle. We found that not only are there large changes in both male performance throughout their life cycle but there are also substantial variation among individuals that may profoundly influence their reproductive success.