Kangaroo Societies

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Science  02 Feb 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5505, pp. 793
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5505.793a

The size of a female mammal's home range tends to correlate quite closely with body size: not surprisingly, larger animals need more space to forage. Macropod marsupials (kangaroos and wallabies), however, show a more complex pattern. Fisher and Owens assemble data on nearly 30 species of Australian macropod and find that female home range size correlates strongly with climatic parameters. In high-rainfall habitats, female range size is much smaller than in arid habitats. Male range size in macropods, on the other hand, is similar across habitats. In wetter habitats, males compete by searching more widely for females; in drier habitats, they compete by fighting, and also are much bigger than females. Hence, climate may have played an important role in determining the evolution of social organization, sexual dimorphism, and mating systems in these animals. — AMS

J. Animal Ecol.69, 1083 (2000).

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