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The dinnertime dilemma for Brushtail possums (series)
Should I stay or should I go now

Dr Clare McArthur from the University of Sydney’s School of Biological Sciences looks at how brushed-tailed possums balance the different natural constraints that come into play when they are foraging.
Personal development

Associate Professor Clare McArthur, from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Sydney, explains the implications of research linked to different personalities in possum foraging. In this latest research on possums, personality, plants, poisons and primary parasites all play a part. The studies follow on from experimental work a few years ago that showed personality, laid on top of predation risk and plant toxins, explained variations in how individual possums forage.
Possum personality

Associate Professor Clare McArthur, from the University of Sydney's School of Biological Sciences, looks at the possibility that individual possum behaviour might be a signal of personality.
A Niche Industry

Associate Professor Clare McArthur explains how personality traits in possums relate to differences in their foraging behaviours. One test that measures how long a possum will spend eating in novel (and therefore risky) environments, revealed propensity for risk taking to be a consistent trait, some animals definitely being bolder than others. Other tests showed that while 'shy' compared with 'bold' individuals spent less time foraging in risky sites (where higher quality food was provided), they still ate the same amounts. The difference was that they were quick, efficient foragers and spent minimal time at the sites. The findings suggest that for foraging, there are different ways of solving the same problem, demonstrating variations (niches) within a species. It may well be why animals can survive in such dense populations. It may also mean that striving to provide a landscape for a particular species needs to take into account those differences in personalities rather than treating them as a monoculture.

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