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Seasonality in reproduction, age structure and density of the gracile mouse opossum Gracilinanus microtarsus (Marsupialia: Didelphidae) in a Brazilian cerrado

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 July 2006

Eduardo Guimarães Martins
Affiliation:
Programa de Pós-graduação em Ecologia, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, SP, Brazil Departamento de Parasitologia, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, SP, Brazil
Vinícius Bonato
Affiliation:
Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Centro Regional Universitário Espírito Santo do Pinhal, Espírito Santo do Pinhal, SP, Brazil
Cibele Queiroz da-Silva
Affiliation:
Departamento de Estatística, Instituto de Ciências Exatas, Universidade de Brasília, Brasília, DF, Brazil
Sérgio Furtado dos Reis
Affiliation:
Departamento de Parasitologia, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, SP, Brazil

Abstract

The temporal pattern of reproduction and its consequences for age structure and density were investigated in a population of the gracile mouse opossum Gracilinanus microtarsus in south-eastern Brazil. Individuals of G. microtarsus were monitored through capture–mark–recapture methods from August 2000 to February 2003 in a remnant of cerradão, a forest-like physiognomy of the highly seasonal cerrado biome. The temporal pattern of reproduction of the population studied was highly seasonal with rearing of the offspring occurring in the first half of the warm-wet season, when the abundance of food resources – primarily insects – in the cerrado is high. Shortly after reproduction, the density of adults decreased sharply, possibly because of high post-mating mortality, leading to a gradual replacement of adults by their offspring in the following months and little overlap of generations. Our data suggest that climatic and environmental factors affect the onset of reproduction and interact with endogenous factors that decrease post-mating survival to produce the observed pattern of seasonal variation in age structure and density. It is suggested that the dynamics of populations of G. microtarsus may be driven primarily by food limitation and that long-term studies are needed to understand its feedback structure.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
2006 Cambridge University Press

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Seasonality in reproduction, age structure and density of the gracile mouse opossum Gracilinanus microtarsus (Marsupialia: Didelphidae) in a Brazilian cerrado
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Seasonality in reproduction, age structure and density of the gracile mouse opossum Gracilinanus microtarsus (Marsupialia: Didelphidae) in a Brazilian cerrado
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