Acta Theriologica

, Volume 54, Issue 3, pp 259–266 | Cite as

Vertical use of space by the marsupial Micoureus paraguayanus (Didelphimorphia,Didelphidae) in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil

  • Jayme A. Prevedello
  • Renato G. Rodrigues
  • Emygdio L. A. Monteiro-Filho


Despite most neotropical marsupials have arboreal habits, methodological and analytical difficulties usually hamper the study of vertical movements of individuals. We used the spool-and-line technique to record height and incline of movements, escape behaviour and use of refuges by the opossum Micoureus paraguayanus (Tate, 1931) (Didelphimorphia, Didelphidae) in the Atlantic Forest, Brazil. A new index for measuring intensity of vertical use of space by individuals is introduced and applied to compare movements of males and females of M. paraguayanus. Activity on the ground was scarce and refuges were located exclusively above-ground. The lower stratum was the most used by individuals. Females had greater intensity of vertical use than males, exploring more the vertical axis of the forest. The results confirm arboreal habits of M. paraguayanus and demonstrate that males and females use differently the vertical dimension of habitat. The new index presented can be a valuable tool for studying use of space by arboreal small mammals.

Key words

arboreal activities spatial patterns didelphid marsupials vertical movements spool and line device 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. August P. V. 1983. The role of habitat complexity and heterogeneity in structuring tropical mammal communities. Ecology 64: 1495–1507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barros C. 2006. [How do small populations persist in fragmented landscapes? Eleven years of study with Micoureus demerarae populations in Atlantic Forest fragments in the Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil]. MSc thesis, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro: 1–72. [In Portuguese]Google Scholar
  3. Bergallo H. G. and Magnusson W. E. 2004. Factors affecting the use of space by two rodent species in Brazilian Atlantic forest. Mammalia 68: 121–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boonstra R. and Craine L. T. M. 1986. Natal nest location and small mammal tracking with a spool and line technique. Canadian Journal of Zoology 64:1034–1036.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cáceres N. C., Ghizoni-Jr I. R. and Graipel M. E. 2002. Diet of two marsupials, Lutreolina crassicaudata and Micoureus demerarae, in a coastal Atlantic Forest island of Brazil. Mammalia 66: 331–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Charles-Dominique P., Atramentowicz M., Charles-Dominique M., Gérard H., Hladik A., Hladik C. M. and Prévost M. F. 1981. Les mammiferes frugivores arboricoles nocturnes d’une foret guyanaise: inter-relations plantes-animaux. Revue d’ Ecologie (Terre Vie) 35: 341–435.Google Scholar
  7. Cunha A. A. and Vieira M. V. 2002. Support diameter, incline, and vertical movements of four didelphid marsupials in the Atlantic forest of Brazil. Journal of Zoology, London 258: 419–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cunha A. A. and Vieira M. V. 2005. Age, season, and vertical use of the Atlantic rainforest by the common opossum, Didelphis aurita Wied-Newied 1826. Acta Theriologica 50: 551–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dunn O. J. 1964. Multiple contrasts using rank sums. Technometrics 6: 241–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Emmons L. H. 1997. Neotropical rainforest mammals: a field guide. 2nd edition. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago: 1–307.Google Scholar
  11. Gannon W. L., Sikes R. S. and The Animal Care and Use committee of The American Society of Mammalogists. 2007. Guidelines of the American Society of Mammalogists for the use of wild mammals in research. Journal of Mammalogy 88: 809–823.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Grelle C. E. V. 2003. Forest structure and vertical stratification of small mammals in a secondary Atlantic Forest, southeastern Brazil. Studies on Neotropical Fauna and Environment 38: 81–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Holbrook S. 1979. Vegetational affinities, arboreal activity, and coexistence of three species of rodents. Journal of Mammalogy 60: 528–542.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jones M. E. and Barmuta L. A. 2000. Niche differentiation among sympatric Australian dasyurid carnivores. Journal of Mammalogy 81: 434–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Leiner N. O. and Silva W. R. 2007. Effects of resource availability on the use of space by the mouse opossum Marmosops paulensis (Didelphidae) in a montane Atlantic forest area in southeastern Brazil. Acta Theriologica 52: 197–204.Google Scholar
  16. Loretto D. and Vieira M. V. 2005. The effects of reproductive and climatic seasons on movements in the blackeared opossum (Didelphis aurita Wied-Neuwied, 1826). Journal of Mammalogy 86: 287–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Loretto D. and Vieira M. V. 2008. Use of space by the marsupial Marmosops incanus (Didelphimorphia, Didelphidae) in the Atlantic Forest, Brazil. Mammalian Biology 73:255–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Loretto D., Ramalho E. and Vieira M. V. 2005. Defense behavior and nest arquitecture of Metachirus nudicaudatus Desmarest, 1817 (Marsupialia; Didelphidae). Mammalia 69: 417–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Malcolm J. R. 1991. Comparative abundances of neotropical small mammals by trap height. Journal of Mammalogy 72: 188–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. M’Closkey R. T. 1975. Habitat dimensions of white-footed mice, Peromyscus leucopus. American Midland Naturalist 93: 158–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Meserve P. L. 1977. Three-dimensional home ranges of cricetid rodents. Journal of Mammalogy 58: 549–558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Miles M. A., Souza A. A. and Póvoa M. M. 1981. Mammal tracking and nest location in Brazilian forest with an improved spool-and-line device. Journal of Zoology, London 195: 331–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Moraes Júnior E. A. and Chiarello A. G. 2005a. A radio tracking study of home range and movements of the marsupial Micoureus demerarae (Thomas) (Mammalia, Didelphidae). Revista Brasileira de Zoologia 22: 85–91.Google Scholar
  24. Moraes Júnior E. A. and Chiarello A. G. 2005b. Sleeping sites of the woolly mouse opossum Micoureus demerarae (Thomas) (Didelphimorphia, Didelphidae) in the Atlantic Forest of south-eastern Brazil. Revista Brasileira de Zoologia 22: 839–843.Google Scholar
  25. Moura M. C., Caparelli A. C., Freitas S. R. and Vieira M. V. 2005. Scale-dependent habitat selection in three didelphid marsupials using the spool-and-line technique in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. Journal of Tropical Ecology 21: 337–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Neave H. R. and Worthington P. L. 1988. Distribution-free tests. Unwin Hyman, London: 1–430.Google Scholar
  27. Passamani M. 1995. Vertical stratification of small mammals in Atlantic Hill forest. Mammalia 59: 276–279.Google Scholar
  28. Patton J. L. and Costa L. P. 2003. Molecular phylogeography and species limits in rainforest didelphid marsupials of South America. [In: Predators with pouches: The biology of carnivorous marsupials. M. Jones, C. Dickman and M. Archer, eds]. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood: 63–81.Google Scholar
  29. Pires A. S. and Fernandez F. A. S. 1999. Use of space by the marsupial Micoureus demerarae in small Atlantic Forest fragments in south-eastern Brazil. Journal of Tropical Ecology 15: 279–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pires A. S., Fernandez F. A. S. and Freitas D. 1999. Patterns of space use by Micoureus demerarae (Marsupialia: Didelphidae) in a fragment of Atlantic forest in Brazil. Mastozoologia Neotropical 6: 39–45.Google Scholar
  31. Prevedello J. A., Ferreira P., Papi B. S., Loretto D. and Vieira M. V. 2008. [Vertical space use by small mammals in the Serra dos Órgàos National Park, RJ: a ten-year study using three sampling methods]. Espaço e Geografia 11: 95–119. [In Portuguese]Google Scholar
  32. Rader R. and Krockenberger A. 2006. Three-dimensional use of space by a tropical rainforest rodent, Melomys cervinipes, and its implications for foraging and homerange size. Wildlife Research 33: 577–582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Steinwald M. C., Swanson B. J. and Waser P. M. 2006. Effects of spool-and-line tracking on small desert mammals. The Southwestern Naturalist 51: 71–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Vieira E. M. 2006. [Patterns of vertical habitat use by Brazilian marsupials]. [In: Os marsupiais do Brasil: biologia, ecologia e evoluçào. N. C. Cáceres and E. L. A. Monteiro-Filho, orgs]. Editora da Universidade Federal do Mato Grosso do Sul, Campo Grande: 217–228. [In Portuguese]Google Scholar
  35. Vieira E. M. and Monteiro-Filho E. L. A. 2003. Vertical stratification of small mammals in the Atlantic rain forest of south-eastern Brazil. Journal of Tropical Ecology 19: 501–507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wells K., Pfeiffer M., Lakim M. B. and Linsenmair K. E. 2004. Use of arboreal and terrestrial space by a small mammal community in a tropical rain forest in Borneo, Malaysia. Journal of Biogeography 31: 641–652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Zar J. H. 1999. Biostatistical analysis, 4th edition. Prentice-Hall, New Jersey: 1–663.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Mammal Research Institute, Bialowieza, Poland 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jayme A. Prevedello
    • 1
    • 2
  • Renato G. Rodrigues
    • 1
    • 2
  • Emygdio L. A. Monteiro-Filho
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratório de Biologia e Ecologia de Vertebrados, Departamento de ZoologiaUniversidade Federal do ParanáCuritibaBrazil
  2. 2.Instituto de Pesquisas CananéiaCampinasBrazil

Personalised recommendations