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Adaptations to a diet of nectar and pollen in the marsupial Tarsipes rostratus (Marsupialia: Tarsipedidae)

Richardson, K.C., Wooller, R.D. and Collins, B.G. (2009) Adaptations to a diet of nectar and pollen in the marsupial Tarsipes rostratus (Marsupialia: Tarsipedidae). Journal of Zoology, 208 (2). pp. 285-297.

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The mouse‐sized marsupial Tarsipes rostratus, endemic to south‐western Australia, feeds almost exclusively on nectar and pollen. Its tongue has long filiform papillae at the tip and shorter compound papillae over much of the upper surface. These collect nectar and pollen when the long tongue, stiffened by a keratinized keel, is protruded into flowers or over pollen presenters. Pollen is scraped from the papillae by a series of combs on the roof of the mouth. A large diverticulum, off the main chamber of the stomach, may store nectar in times of surplus. Pollen is not digested in the stomach but during passage down the simple intestine, which does not have a caecum. In captive animals, pollen passed through the gut in about six hours and the percentage of grains voided which had lost their contents was related to time spent in the gut. The digestion process remains unresolved but probably takes place through the apertures in the shells of pollen grains. Tarsipes ingests large numbers of pollen grains whose contents probably provide necessary nutrients absent from nectar.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary Studies
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Copyright: © 1987 British Small Animal Veterinary Association
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