Surprise in the pouch - a case of adoption in the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula)

Jutta Eymann, Linda Neaves, Mark D. B. Eldridge, Desmond W. Cooper, Catherine A. Herbert

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Abstract

The common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) is usually a strictly monotocous species, presenting one offspring at a time. Two concurrent offspring is a rare occurrence, but twin pouch young or young spaced one oestrous cycle apart have been reported. We investigated the biology of urban T. vulpecula populations within the Sydney metropolitan area between November 2002 and April 2005. As part of these studies, we trapped one adult female T. vulpecula with two young. Analysis of morphological data from the young and development of the female?s mammary gland suggest that only one young was her offspring. The results of genetic analysis support this conclusion. Herewith, we describe an apparent case of adoption in T. vulpecula.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-68
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Mammalogy
Volume29
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Keywords

  • marsupial
  • maternal care
  • microsatellite loci
  • mother-young-behaviour
  • offspring
  • reproduction
  • relatedness
  • twins

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