Tech & Science : Kaluta research confirms marsupial dies after mating - - PressFrom - Australia
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Tech & Science Kaluta research confirms marsupial dies after mating

01:20  08 september  2019
01:20  08 september  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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A tiny male marsupial dies in the wild after intense mating and not from the harsh, arid environment in which it lives, research confirms .

Male kalutas , small mouselike marsupials found in the arid regions of Northwestern Australia, are semelparous, meaning that shortly after they mate , they Kalutas evolved independently of other semelparous dasyurids, so the confirmation that male kalutas die after mating suggests that this

Kaluta research confirms marsupial dies after mating© Provided by Australian Broadcasting Corporation The kaluta is a small, carnivorous marsupial found only in WA's Pilbara region. (Supplied: University of Western Australia)

A tiny male marsupial dies in the wild after "intense" mating and not from the harsh, arid environment in which it lives, research confirms.

Kaluta research confirms marsupial dies after mating
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The male kaluta — a small, relatively unknown, meat-eating marsupial — thrives in Western Australia's Pilbara region. Until it mates.

Scientists have shed new light on the shocking fate of the red, mouse-sized creature.

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Female kalutas mate frequently and with different males during each breeding season. “That means that males also have to mate a lot, and have good “This, coupled with other research in the field and laboratory, strongly suggests that males die after the mating season.” The researchers said that

Female kalutas mate frequently and with different males during each breeding season. “That means that males also have to mate a lot, and have good “This, coupled with other research in the field and laboratory, strongly suggests that males die after the mating season.” The researchers said that

Dr Genevieve Hayes studied the animal's extreme and unusual mating behaviour as part of her PhD at the University of Western Australia.

The research has confirmed that the male kalutas die after a single, intense breeding season.

"Previous research in the laboratory had shown that kalutas probably had this mating system and so we wanted to confirm it in the wild, and that's what we did," Dr Hayes said.

The synchronised death is known as male semelparity or a male die-off.

"All of the males in a population will die shortly after their first breeding season but before the females give birth.

"It's an interesting mating system, that sort of evolved through sperm competition — it's really driven by the females, or that's the current hypothesis."

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Female kalutas mate frequently and with different males during each breeding season. “That means that males also have to mate a lot, and have good “This, coupled with other research in the field and laboratory, strongly suggests that males die after the mating season.” The researchers said that

Biologists studying kalutas – a mouse-sized marsupial found in the arid Pilbara region in northwest Australia – believe they die en "This, coupled with other research in the field and laboratory, strongly suggests that males die after the mating season." The researchers said that despite the kalutas '

Kalutas breed annually for two weeks in September.

They produce a litter of up to eight young which are born in November, two months after mating.

They enter the population in February or March after weaning.

Dr Hayes said the study also identified female kalutas mate frequently with different males and one litter could have up to three fathers.

"The females escalate this sperm competition which has intensified the competition between the males which means they have to increase their investment in their reproduction and that eventually leads to the decreased survival amongst them," Dr Hayes said.

"The males have to mate a lot and have good quality sperm to outcompete rival males.

"This intense investment in reproduction, evidenced by their large testes, appears to be fatal for males."

Surviving in the Pilbara

Despite their shocking end, the number of male and female kalutas appeared to be comparable as the latter also suffered from the "intense" mating season.

"So really there probably isn't many more females in the wild as adults, than there are males anyway," she said.

"Small mammals of that size they don't tend to live more than a year anyway.

"It's quite an intense reproductive event for the females as well as the males, so it takes a lot out of them and that's quite costly and that can lead to their decreased survival."

She said despite their brief existence, they were doing well as a population in the wild.

"They are actually seemingly doing quite well, which is interesting in itself because a lot of the mammal species in the Pilbara are declining," Dr Hayes said.

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