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Diet of four rock-dwelling macropods in the Australian monsoon tropics

Telfer, W. and Bowman, David (2006). Diet of four rock-dwelling macropods in the Australian monsoon tropics. Austral Ecology: a journal of ecology in the Southern Hemisphere,31(7):817-827.

Document type: Journal Article
Citation counts: Scopus Citation Count Cited 8 times in Scopus Article | Citations

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IRMA ID A00004xPUB58
Title Diet of four rock-dwelling macropods in the Australian monsoon tropics
Author Telfer, W.
Bowman, David
Journal Name Austral Ecology: a journal of ecology in the Southern Hemisphere
Publication Date 2006
Volume Number 31
Issue Number 7
ISSN 1442-9985   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-33749555556
Start Page 817
End Page 827
Total Pages 11
Place of Publication Australia
Publisher Blackwell Publishing
Field of Research 0602 - Ecology
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DEST)
Abstract An unusually high diversity of macropods inhabit the rocky areas in the monsoon tropics of the Northern Territory, Australia, yet the mechanisms that allow their niche separation are not clear. Previous studies suggest that the nabarlek, Petrogale concinna, may have a more grazing diet than the short-eared rock-wallaby, Petrogale brachyotis, with whom it coexists. Thus, diet may be an important mechanism of niche separation between these species. We examined the diet of the four sympatric species (the black wallaroo Macropus bernardus, common wallaroo Macropus robustus, P. brachyotis and P. concinna) to determine whether there are differences in the dominant plant groups eaten by the species across the landscape and with season. Diets were determined with a macroscopic analysis of the seed and fruit content of scats and an analysis of the C-12 to C-13 isotope ratios of scats using mass spectrometry. In the dry season the rock-wallaby species predominantly consumed browse and/or forbs, and the larger wallaroos predominantly consumed grass. However, there was large variation across the landscape in the dry season diets of P. brachyotis, M. bernardus and M. robustus; including high proportions of grass eaten at some sites and high proportions of browse at other sites. In the wet season, greater proportions of grass were eaten by P. brachyotis and M. bernardus than in the dry season. Generally, there was little evidence to support the previous suggestion that P. concinna is more of a grazer than P. brachyotis, but there was some evidence than M. bernardus consumes greater amounts of browse and/or forbs than M. robustus.
Keywords carbon isotope ratio
feeding ecology
stable carbon isotopes
rufous hare-wallaby
wet-dry tropics
vegetation change
tanami desert
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