Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter May 7, 2015

Aquatic locomotion of the terrestrial opossum Didelphis aurita (Didelphimorphia, Didelphidae) using undulatory swimming mode

Maurício E. Graipel and Ricardo T. Santori
From the journal Mammalia

Abstract

This note reports the first record of undulatory swimming mode by the black-eared opossum Didelphis aurita. The record was made in a stream running through the Atlantic Rain Forest in Southern Brazil. After the individual was released, it dove into the stream to escape, swimming using undulation of its trunk and tail. In general, terrestrial mammals use similar gaits to walk and swim. The lateral undulation of the trunk and tail observed during the diving of D. aurita was similar to that seen in quadruped diagonal gaits in terrestrial habitats, but swimming without use of fore and hind limbs is a behavior unique to aquatic locomotion, increasing the locomotor repertoire of this species.


Corresponding author: Maurício E. Graipel, Departamento de Ecologia e Zoologia, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, CEP: 88040-970, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil, e-mail:

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Gina Aredes and Juliana Telles for drawing the opossum’s locomotion, Dr. Paul Richard Miller for the English corrections and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on the manuscript. The research was supported in part by Fundação Carlos Chagas Filho de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ), and Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES).

References

Cunha, A.A. and M.V. Vieira. 2002. Support diameter, incline, and vertical movements of four didelphid marsupials in the Atlantic forest of Brazil. J. Zool. 258: 419–426.Search in Google Scholar

Delciellos, A.C. and M.V. Vieira. 2007. Stride lengths and frequencies of arboreal walking in seven species of didelphid marsupials. Acta Theriol. 52: 101–111.Search in Google Scholar

Doutt, J.K. 1954. The swimming of the opossum, Didelphis marsupialis virginiana. J. Mammal. 35: 581–583.Search in Google Scholar

Fish, F.E. 1992. Aquatic locomotion. In: (T.E. Tomasi and T.H. Horton, eds.) Mammalian energetics: interdisciplinary views of metabolism and reproduction. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY. pp. 34–63.Search in Google Scholar

Fish, F.E. 1993a. Influence of hydrodynamic-design and propulsive mode on mammalian swimming energetics. Aust. J. Zool. 42: 79–101.Search in Google Scholar

Fish, F.E. 1993b. Comparison of swimming between terrestrial and semiaquatic opossums. J. Mammal. 74: 275–284.Search in Google Scholar

Fish, F.E. 1994. Association of propulsive swimming mode with behavior in river otters (Lutra canadensis). J. Mammal. 75: 989–997.Search in Google Scholar

Fish, F.E. 1996. Transitions from drag-based to lift-based propulsion in mammalian swimming. Amer. Zool. 36: 628–641.Search in Google Scholar

Fish, F.E. 2001. A mechanism for evolutionary transition in swimming mode by mammals. In: (J.M. Mazin and V. de Buffrénil, eds.) Secondary adaptation of tetrapods to life in water. Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil, Munich. pp. 261–287.Search in Google Scholar

Graipel, M.E., J.J. Cherem, E.L.A. Monteiro-Filho and L. Glock. 2006. Dinâmica populacional de marsupiais e roedores no Parque Municipal da Lagoa do Peri, Ilha de Santa Catarina, sul do Brasil. Mastozool. Neotrop. 13: 31–49.Search in Google Scholar

Hertel, H. 1966. Structure, form, movement. Reinhold, New York. pp 251.Search in Google Scholar

Hickman, G.C. and C. Machiné. 1986. Swimming behaviour in six species of African rodents (Criscetidae, Muridae). Acta Theriol. 31: 449–466.Search in Google Scholar

Kimble, D.P. 1997. Didelphid behavior. Neurosc. Behav. R. 21: 361–369.Search in Google Scholar

Lang, T.G. and D.A. Daybell. 1963. Porpoise performance tests in a seawater tank. NOTs Technical Publication 3063. Naval Ordnance Test Station, China Lake, CA. NAVWEPS Report 8060.Search in Google Scholar

McManus, J.J. 1970. Behavior of captive opossums, Didelphis marsupialis virginiana. Am. Midland Nat. 84: 114–169.Search in Google Scholar

Monteiro-Filho, E.L.A. and V.S. Dias. 1990. Observações sobre a biologia de Lutreolina crassicaudata (Mammalia: marsupialia). Rev. Bras. Biol. 50: 393–399.Search in Google Scholar

Moore, J.C. 1955. Opussum taking refuge under water. J. Mammal. 36: 559.Search in Google Scholar

Reynolds, P.S. 1993. Size, shape and surface area of beaver, Castor canadensis, a semiaquatic mammal. Can. J. Zool. 71: 876–882.Search in Google Scholar

Santori, R.T., O. Rocha-Barbosa, M.V. Vieira, J.A. Magnan-Neto and M.F. Loguercio. 2005. Locomotion in aquatic, terrestrial, and arboreal habitat of thick-tailed opossum, Lutreolina crassicaudata (Desmarest, 1804). J. Mammal. 86: 902–908.Search in Google Scholar

Santori, R.T., M.V. Vieira, O. Rocha-Barbosa, J.A. Magnan-Neto and N. Gobbi. 2008. Water absorption by the fur and swimming behavior of semiaquatic and terrestrial oryzomine rodents. J. Mammal. 89: 1152–1161.Search in Google Scholar

Santori, R.T., A.C. Delciellos, M.V. Vieira, N. Gobbi, M.F.C. Loguercio and O. Rocha-Barbosa. 2014. Swimming performance in semiaquatic and terrestrial Oryzomyine rodents. Mamm. Biol. 79: 189–194.Search in Google Scholar

Thompson, S.D. 1988. Thermoregulation in the water opossum (Chironectes minimus): an exception that “proves” a rule. Physiol. Zool. 61: 450–460.Search in Google Scholar

Vieira, M.V. and A.C. Delciellos. 2012. Locomoção, morfologia e uso de habitat em marsupiais neotropicais: uma abordagem ecomorfológica. In: (N.C. Cáceres ed.) Os marsupiais do Brasil: biologia, Ecologia e Conservação. 2nd ed. Editora UFMS. Campo Grande, MS. pp. 363–381.Search in Google Scholar

Walker Jr., W.F. and K.F. Liem. 1994. Functional anatomy of the vertebrates: an evolutionary perspective. 2nd ed. Saunders College Publishing. Harcourt Brace College Publishers, London. pp. 703.Search in Google Scholar

Wilber, C.G. and G.H. Weidenbacher. 1961. Swimming capacity of some wild mammals. J. Mammal. 42: 428–429.Search in Google Scholar

Williams, T.M. 1983. Locomotion in the North American mink, a semi-aquatic mammal. 1. Swimming energetics and body drag. J. Exp. Biol. 103: 155–168.Search in Google Scholar

Received: 2014-9-11
Accepted: 2015-3-31
Published Online: 2015-5-7
Published in Print: 2016-5-1

©2016 by De Gruyter