Navigation Links
Wildlife Conservation Society supports world's first study of egg-laying mammal
Date:6/9/2009

A Wildlife Conservation Society research intern working in the wilds of Papua New Guinea has successfully completed what many other field biologists considered "mission impossible"the first study of a rare egg-laying mammal called the long-beaked echidna.

The WCS-supported studywhich consisted of thousands of hours of grueling field work in Papua New Guinea's Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Areatook Muse D. Opiang, now of the Papua New Guinea Institute of Biological Research, several years of remotely tracking the porcupine-sized mammals and recording their dens and other signs.

The study, published in a recent of the Journal of Mammalogy, chronicles the first solid data on the animal's nocturnal foraging behaviors, movement patterns, and home-range sizes for the species.

The long-beaked echidna is found only in New Guinea and is a member of the monotremes, a primitive order of mammals that forced zoologists to change their very definitions of what a mammal is. Unlike all other mammals, monotremes like the echidna (also called the spiny anteater) and the better known platypus lay eggs.

"All of the time and effort invested in the study has paid off with new insights into the natural history of this seldom seen and unusual mammal," said Opiang. "These findings will help inform conservation strategies for the species, which is threatened by hunting and habitat loss."

The nocturnal, subterranean lifestyle of the species represented a real challenge for field research, with some experts declaring the species impossible to study. And it did take some time nearly 6,000 man-hours of field work between 2001-2005. Opiang spent 500 hours in the field before locating his first animal.

In the end, Opiang managed to capture 22 individual echidnas (15 adults and 7 juveniles), and affixed radio transmitters to 9 adults and 3 juveniles. Because this was the first study of the unusual species, Opiang had to develop methods by trial and error. Initially, transmitters were attached to spines, but the constant burrowing and digging of the echidnas resulted in transmitters falling off. The ankle proved to be a more reliable placement point. Home ranges for the tracked echidnas averaged 39 hectares (96 acres).

The study located over 200 den sites, most of which were underground, while others were found in cliff faces and in thick vegetation. One lactating female was found. Other signs recorded in the study were nose-pokes (when the echidna pokes its tube-like snout in the soil in search of invertebrate prey) and digs (deeper holes excavated with the echidna's long claws).

"The limited information on the long-beaked echidna's biology, feeding behavior and ecology has prevented conservationists from formulating plans for protecting this elusive and threatened animal," said Dr. Ross Sinclair, Director of WCS's Papua New Guinea program. "The research methods developed by Opiang and the data he gathered can now help us to manage and protect this rare and species."

About long-beaked echidnas

  • Echidnas are members of the monotremes, an order of mammals that lay leathery eggs, as opposed to placental and marsupial mammals, both groups of which give birth to live young.
  • Echidnas resemble anteaters with long course hairs and spines. They are powerful diggers and possess short legs with long claws.
  • The snout of the echidna ends in a tiny mouth with no teeth.
  • Long-beaked echidnas feed on insect larvae, worms, and other invertebrates (whereas short-beaked echidnas prefer ants and termites).
  • Echidnas and platypuses are more reptile-like than other mammals, with features such as: a more sprawling gait; and a single opening for depositing waste and facilitating reproduction (known as a cloaca, as in both birds and reptiles).
  • Echidnas (both long- and short-beaked) lay a single egg, which the female holds in a sticky pouch. The hatchling (known as a "puggle") resides in the pouch for between 40-50 days and receives milk from two mammary patches (echidnas have no teats).
  • Once the puggle develops spines, the mother digs a nursery den that becomes the puggle's new home; the mother returns every five days to nurse the puggle. The baby is weaned in seven months.


'/>"/>

Contact: John Delaney
jdelaney@wcs.org
718-220-3275
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Wildlife trade threatens public health and ecosystems
2. Wildlife biologist named Roger Tory Peterson Medal recipient, speaker
3. Wildlife Conservation Society helps Cameroon create new national park
4. Village bird study highlights loss of wildlife knowledge from one
5. Golf course: Playing fields, wildlife sanctuaries or both
6. Study on wildlife corridors shows how they work over time
7. Study: Wildlife need more complex travel plans
8. For the birds or for me? Why do conservationists really help wildlife?
9. Wildlife Conservation Society discovers Planet of the Apes
10. Lincoln Park Zoo launches first-of-its-kind wildlife reintroduction database
11. Wildlife Conservation Society releases definitive state of the wild
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Wildlife Conservation Society supports world's first study of egg-laying mammal
(Date:12/16/2016)... Dec 16, 2016 Research and Markets has ... - Global Forecast to 2021" report to their offering. ... The biometric vehicle ... at a CAGR of 14.06% from 2016 to 2021. The market ... projected to reach 854.8 Million by 2021. The growth of the ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... Germany , December 15, 2016 ... provider, today announced an agreement with NuData Security, an ... forces. The partnership will enable clients to focus on good ... local data protection regulation. ... In order to provide a one-stop fraud ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... 2016 ... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the ... The report forecasts the global military biometrics market to grow at ... report has been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs ... prospects over the coming years. The report also includes a discussion of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/17/2017)... DIEGO , Jan. 17, 2017  An ... School of Medicine and St. Boniface Hospital Albrechtsen ... for peripheral neuropathy, an unmet health need affecting ... the Journal of Clinical Investigation, their results identify ... that prevent and reverse neuronal injury in animal ...
(Date:1/17/2017)... 2017  Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc. (NYSE and SIX: ... sales and earnings conference call will be broadcast live ... 8 a.m. Eastern Time.  A news release detailing the ... 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time the morning of the conference ... accessed via Zimmer Biomet,s Investor Relations website at ...
(Date:1/17/2017)... NEW YORK , Jan. 17, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... mobile health coaching, is the first to offer ... and obesity. Noom,s Spanish diabetes prevention ... expand the reach and accessibility of lifestyle interventions ... of developing these conditions. Noom,s robust food database, ...
(Date:1/17/2017)... -- Only nine percent of U.S. consumers believe pharmaceutical and ... percent believe health insurance companies do, according to a ... U.S. adults believe health care providers (such as doctors ... (23%). "We are in the midst of ... vice president of reputation management and public affairs at ...
Breaking Biology Technology: