, Volume 52, Issue 1, pp 101-111

Stride lengths and frequencies of arboreal walking in seven species of didelphid marsupials

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Didelphid marsupials differ in their use of the forest strata, with corresponding differences in morphology and arboreal walking performances. Similar performances may be reached by different combinations of stride length and frequency, but it has been suggested that arboreal walkers increase velocity by longer strides. Our objective was to determine how stride length and frequency contribute to the velocity in the arboreal walking of seven species of didelphid marsupials of the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. Animals were stimulated to cross five 3-m long horizontal supports of different diameters. The cycle of maximum velocity was chosen to measure relative stride length, frequency, and relative velocity. Except forCaluromys philander, the more arboreal species were faster than the terrestrial species, but maximum velocity of arboreal species was reached by two strategies, increasing stride frequency (Gracilinanus microtarsus, Micoureus demerarae, andDidelphis aurita), or reducing frequency and increasing stride length (Marmosops incanus andC. philander). Increasing velocity in arboreal walking by more frequent strides may reduce oscillations of the body, whereas longer strides may reduce branch swaying. Among the terrestrial species,Philander frenatus performed similarly to more arboreal species, suggesting a potential ability to use the canopy, undetected in field observations.

Associate editor was Joseph F. Merritt.