Australian Mammalogy Australian Mammalogy Society
Journal of the Australian Mammal Society

Evidence for male-biased dispersal in a reintroduced population of burrowing bettongs Bettongia lesueur at Heirisson Prong, Western Australia.

BC Parsons , JC Short and MC Calver

Australian Mammalogy 24(2) 219 - 224
Published: 2002


The pattern of dispersal of burrowing bettongs (Bettongia lesueur) was studied in a population reintroduced to a peninsula protected from exotic predators at Heirisson Prong in Shark Bay, Western Australia. The reintroduced population was growing strongly in numbers and expanding in area during the study. Young were first marked in the pouch and subsequently monitored by trapping and radio-telemetry after independence to establish their movements relative to those of their mothers. B. lesueur on Heirisson Prong dispersed between the ages of 170 and 250 days, coinciding with the period from weaning to sexual maturity. Dispersal was male-biased. Young males dispersed significantly further than young females with mean dispersal distances of 4600 m and 1100 m respectively. Male B. lesueur also frequented significantly more warrens than females, being located at a mean of 0.37 warrens per daily radio-tracking fix compared with a mean of 0.24 per fix for females. Scarring from intraspecific aggression occurred in male bettongs only. Males may disperse to the periphery of the population to escape aggressive interactions with established adult males and visit more warrens to increase mating opportunities. Dispersal in females may be related to resource quality or inbreeding avoidance.

© Australian Mammal Society 2002

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