Midnight siesta: Bimodal temporal activity observed in an endangered marsupial predator

Harry A. Moore, Rebecca L. Diete, Naomi L. Indigo, Mitchell A. Cowan, Gavin J. Trewella, Dale G. Nimmo

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Abstract

Understanding animal behavioural patterns can provide insight into how populations and communities are adapting to broader environmental shifts. The northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus), an endangered marsupial predator, has traditionally been classified as nocturnal. However, evidence is emerging that such simple classifications belie the complexity of animal activity patterns. Using time-stamped camera trap imagery and fine-scale accelerometer data, our study explores the diel activity patterns of northern quolls across their range in northern Australia. Contrary to the conventional nocturnal classification, we found that the northern quoll used bimodal activity patterns in four of the five populations examined in this study. Activity and accelerometer data showed two nightly movement peaks, with a distinctive lull around midnight, a pattern similar to one displayed by other marsupial predators. We found no consistent effect of season or lunar phase on temporal activity. Instead, its possible temporal activity patterns are primarily influenced by factors not accounted for here, such as prey availability, climate, predator avoidance, or energy expenditure related to digestion. We suggest further research incorporating these factors will improve our understanding of northern quoll behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13521
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalAustral Ecology
Volume49
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024

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