A new study suggests that male northern possum cats in Australia are so focused on sex that they die of exhaustion.
Small-spotted marsupials employ a mating strategy called semerparity, sometimes called suicide breeding. That is, a male can only live for one mating season, while a female can live and reproduce for about four years.An Unheard of Practice: 19 Species of Marsupials in the Family Dashridae, including quolls, are semelparous. Pacific salmon die after spawning, and some octopuses self-destruct after spawning.
Smaller conidial mammals eventually die in a flood of stress hormones after mating, writes Donna Lu. GuardianHowever, male quolls show no signs of these hormonal changes when they die, so scientists didn’t know what caused their early death.
In a new study published in Royal Society Open ScienceResearchers attached a miniature backpack with a tracker to an endangered northern quoll on Groot Island, an island off the northeast coast of Australia’s Northern Territory. They found a marked difference in the amount of time men and women spend resting.
“Mating season males rest only about 7% of their day, which is very little. Speaking to Stuart Leight: Brisbane Times“They don’t even groom, they lose a lot of weight, they fight with each other and they get a lot of injuries.”
But women were more than three times as likely to be absent, about 24% of the day.
Tracking data also revealed that some male quolls traveled surprisingly far in search of a mate.
“Two males, named Moi Moi and Cayres, traveled 10.4 kilometers. [6.5 miles] and 9.4 km [5.8 miles] Each Overnight” Lead Author Joshua Gashk tell Australian Broadcasting Corporationof Meg Bolton. “The equivalent human distance based on an average stride would be about 35 to 40 kilometers. [22 to 25 miles]”
By the end of the breeding season, male quolls are usually out of shape and become easy targets for predators.
“They are bald and covered in scabs, sores, mites and other parasites. It is clear that their bodies have stopped functioning,” said an Australian mammal expert at the University of Cambridge in England. , Jack Ashby, was not involved in the new research. told NBC News’ Patrick Smith. “As this new study suggests, it certainly makes sense that the effort they put into finding a mate during that period would lead to less sleep and generally less time to take care of themselves. It fits.”
While this extreme breeding method may not threaten stable populations, quolls are already endangered due to habitat loss and invasive species such as cats, foxes and cane toads. I’m here. Brisbane TimesCane toads were particularly affected by the invasive cane toads in northern Australia. Cane toads are highly venomous and will kill quolls if attacked or eaten. The Australian Wildlife Service estimates that the total remaining northern possum population is around 100,000, but is “decreasing rapidly”.
Clemente speaks Brisbane Times Conservation actions can be implemented during the breeding season to help animals move around and reproduce without being run over by cars or eaten by predators.
Moreover, new findings suggest that quolls may be ideal subjects for further sleep research.
“If male quolls abandon sleep at the expense of survival, northern quolls are an excellent model species for the effects of sleep deprivation on bodily function,” says Clemente. Brisbane Times.