Energy and Water Balance of Marsupials

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


The endothermic physiology of marsupials is broadly consistent with that of placental mammals; patterns and mechanisms of temperature regulation are similar, their energy and water turnover in the field are equivalent, and they respond to the same ecological and environmental drivers, particularly habitat and aridity. However, there are some differences. Marsupials have a lower body temperature and basal metabolic rate and a higher aerobic scope and similar levels of athleticism compared to placentals. Marsupials are much less diverse with a more conservative physiology and generally do not attain the hypermetabolic levels of some placental groups. These differences have implications for their distribution and abundance. There is a good understanding for marsupial metabolism and body temperature of allometric and phylogenetic drivers and ecological and environmental correlates, but more species need to be studied for hygric variables using standardized approaches. Understanding energetics and water balance can better inform management strategies and improve outcomes for species of conservation concern. Translocation programs, climate-niche modeling, and mitigating the effects of fire, heatwaves, and droughts can be improved by including physiological data in the conservation “toolbox.” Perhaps the real challenge lies not in measuring or interpreting the energetics and water balance of marsupials, but rather increasing the appreciation by ecologists, conservation biologists, and wildlife managers of the fundamental role of physiology in determining the distribution, abundance, and continued existence of marsupials.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAmerican and Australasian Marsupials
Subtitle of host publicationAn Evolutionary, Biogeographical, and Ecological Approach
EditorsNilton C. Cáceres, Christopher R. Dickman
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
PublisherSpringer International Publishing Switzerland
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9783031084195
ISBN (Print)9783031084188
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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