Movement behavior of the Monito del monte (Dromiciops gliroides): New insights into the ecology of a unique marsupial

Lida M. Franco, FRANCISCO ENRIQUE FONTURBEL RADA, Giovany Guevara, Mauricio Soto-Gamboa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Behavior and activity patterns largely determine animal’s fitness and their ecological roles. Those patterns depend on many factors, being body mass, sex and age the most relevant in mammals. Particularly, those factors altogether with environmental conditions could influence movement behavior of mammals that hibernate, such as the Monito del monte (Dromiciops gliroides). Methods: To evaluate its movement behavior and activity we radio-tracked D. gliroides 12 individuals (8 females and 4 males, corresponding to 5 adults and 7 sub-adults) during the austral summer. With the estimated locations we estimated home ranges, core areas and their relationship with body mass. We also assessed movement speed during early (19:00 to 01:00 h), peak (01:00 to 03:00 h) and late (03:00 to 07:00 h) activity periods. This study was conducted at the San Martín experimental forest (Valdivia, southern Chile). Results: Estimated home range areas were 1.04 ± 0.20 ha, and core areas were 0.27 ± 0.06 ha; we found no significant differences between males and females, nor between adults and sub-adults. Home range and core areas were independent of body mass in females but showed positive relationships in males. Core area overlap was larger between sub-adult and adult individuals (35%) than between adult males and females (13%). Average movement D. gliroides speed was 1.45 m/min, reaching its lowest value during the peak activity period (01:00 to 03:00 h), but being faster during early and late activity periods. Those speed differences may be related to travelling and foraging activities. Conclusion: Home range and core areas estimated here showed a large variability, which can be related to environmental factors. Home range size was positively correlated with body mass on males but not on females. Also, lower movement speeds at the peak activity period suggest that D. gliroides concentrates feeding activities at this time. As D. gliroides disperses the seeds of at least 16 native plant species, its movement behavior also has important consequences at the community level.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8
JournalRevista Chilena de Historia Natural
Volume92
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Body mass
  • Core area
  • Dromiciops gliroides
  • Home range
  • Monito del monte
  • Movement speed
  • Southern Chile

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