Metabolic, hygric and ventilatory physiology of a hypermetabolic marsupial, the honey possum (Tarsipes rostratus)

Christine Elizabeth Cooper*, Ariovaldo P. Cruz-Neto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The honey possum is the only non-volant mammal to feed exclusively on a diet of nectar and pollen. Like other mammalian and avian nectarivores, previous studies indicated that the honey possum's basal metabolic rate was higher than predicted for a marsupial of equivalent body mass. However, these early measurements have been questioned. We re-examined the basal metabolic rate (2.52 +/- A 0.222 ml O(2) g(-1) h(-1)) of the honey possum and confirm that it is indeed higher (162%) than predicted for other marsupials both before and after accounting for phylogenetic history. This, together with its small body mass (5.4 +/- A 0.14 g; 1.3% of that predicted by phylogeny) may be attributed to its nectarivorous diet and mesic distribution. Its high-basal metabolic rate is associated with a high-standard body temperature (36.6 +/- A 0.48A degrees C) and oxygen extraction (19.4%), but interestingly the honey possum has a high point of relative water economy (17.0A degrees C) and its standard evaporative water loss (4.33 +/- A 0.394 mg H(2)O g(-1) h(-1)) is not elevated above that of other marsupials, despite its mesic habitat and high dietary water intake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)773-781
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology B: Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology
Volume179
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Basal metabolic rate
  • Body temperature
  • Evaporative water loss
  • Marsupial
  • Ventilation
  • Water economy
  • NUMBAT MYRMECOBIUS-FASCIATUS
  • WATER ECONOMY
  • FOOD-HABITS
  • GRANIVOROUS BIRDS
  • BASAL RATE
  • NECTAR
  • ENERGETICS
  • CONSEQUENCES
  • MAMMALS
  • PLETHYSMOGRAPHY

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