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Slow life history and physiological plasticity : survival strategies of a large mammal in a resource-poor environment
Köhler, Meike (Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont)
Moyà Solà, Salvador (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Departament de Biologia Animal, de Biologia Vegetal i d'Ecologia)

Data: 2009
Resum: Because of their physiological and life history characteristics, mammals exploit adaptive zones unavailable to ectothermic reptiles. Yet, they perform best in energyrich environments because their high and constant growth rates and their sustained levels of resting metabolism require continuous resource supply. In resource-limited ecosystems such as islands, therefore, reptiles frequently displace mammals because their slow and flexible growth rates and low metabolic rates permit them to operate effectively with low energy flow. An apparent contradiction of this general principle is the long- term persistence of certain fossil large mammals on energy-poor Mediterranean islands. The purpose of the present study is to uncover the developmental and physiological strategies that allowed fossil large mammals to cope with the low levels of resource supply that characterize insular ecosystems. Long-bone histology of Myotragus, a Plio-Pleistocene bovid from the Balearic Islands, reveals lamellarzonal tissue throughout cortex, a trait exclusive to ectothermic reptiles. The bone microstructure indicates that Myotragus grew unlike any other mammal but similar to crocodiles at slow and flexible rates, ceased growth periodically, and attained somatic maturity extremely late by about 12 years. This developmental pattern denotes that Myotragus, much like extant reptiles, synchronized its metabolic requirements with fluctuating resource levels. Our results suggest that developmental and physiological plasticity was crucial to the survival of this and, perhaps, other large mammals on resource-limited Mediterranean Islands, yet it eventually led to their extinction through a major predator, Homo sapiens.
Nota: Premi a l'excel·lència investigadora. 2010
Drets: Tots els drets reservats
Llengua: Anglès.
Document: article ; recerca ; submittedVersion
Matèria: PREI 2010 ; Paleohistology ; Mammals ; Myotragus ; Physiology ; Life history
Publicat a: PNAS. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 106, Núm. 48 (2009) , p. 1-18

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0813385106
PMID: 19918076

18 p, 4.9 MB

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