Revista chilena de historia natural
versión impresa ISSN 0716-078X
MACNAB, BRIAN K.. Uniformity in the basal metabolic rate of marsupials: its causes and consequences. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2005, vol.78, n.2, pp. 183-198. ISSN 0716-078X. doi: 10.4067/S0716-078X2005000200002.
Most of the variation (98.8 %) in basal rate of metabolism (BMR) in 70 species of marsupials is correlated with body mass, although lowland species have higher basal rates than highland species and burrowers have lower basal rates than non-burrowers. These factors collectively account for 99.2 % of the variation in marsupial BMR. Marsupials differ in BMR from eutherians by having no species with a high basal rate by general mammalian standards, even when consuming vertebrates or grass, food habits that are associated with very high basal rates in eutherians. The absence of high basal rates in marsupials reflects the absence of a correlation of rate of reproduction with basal rate, a correlation present in eutherians. These differences have two consequences: (1) marsupials are less tolerant of cold environments than eutherians, and (2) marsupials coexist with eutherians only when both have food habits associated with low basal rates and therefore when eutherians have reduced rates of reproduction. In Australia and South America marsupial carnivores diversified in the absence of eutherian equivalents. The importation to mainland Australia of dingos by humans appears to have been the immediate cause for the extinction of thylacines, Tasmanian devils, and eastern quolls. Carnivorous marsupials in South America were replaced by eutherians with the completion of the Panamanian land bridge. Macropods, which have lower basal rates than eutherian grazers, survive in central Australia probably because of their adjustment to xeric environments, whereas introduced domestic stock require the provision of water by humans
Palabras clave : coexistence; competitive exclusion; eutherians; marsupials; reproduction.