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An aggregative response of the tropical Australian magpie goose (Anseranas semipalmata) to seasonal floodplains


Traill, LW and Brook, BW, An aggregative response of the tropical Australian magpie goose (Anseranas semipalmata) to seasonal floodplains, Journal of Tropical Ecology, 27, (2) pp. 171-180. ISSN 0266-4674 (2011) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2011 Cambridge University Press

DOI: doi:10.1017/S0266467410000672


We describe the spatial aggregation of the magpie goose (Anseranas semipalmata) in relation to the dynamics of the ephemeral floodplains of northern Australia. Past broad-scale studies have linked geese to floodplains dominated by the sedge, Eleocharis dulcis, but the type of response has not been determined, nor the impact of predation on food plants. Moreover, departure thresholds are not known. We develop hypotheses on aggregation and departure and confront these with field data. Thus, from 2005–2007 we established two sites on the floodplains of Kakadu National Park (three 1-ha plots per site, six plots in total) and used for monthly, dry season bird counts. An airboat was used to collect data from each of the six plots, including sedge tubers and measures of water level and soil viscosity. Further, we built exclosures (three per site, six in total) to test the impact of herbivory on E. dulcis. Generalized linear models and information theory were used to test the strength of supporting evidence for alternate hypotheses. Geese showed a clear aggregative response to E. dulcis tubers, were forced to depart following floodplain drying and had a marked impact on E. dulcis tuber density. Despite this, there was no evidence of a negative-feedback mechanism between plant–herbivore populations, suggesting that the system is driven by extrinsic parameters (here rainfall).

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Elocharis dulcis, herbivory, Kakadu, magpie geese
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Wildlife and habitat management
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Brook, BW (Professor Barry Brook)
ID Code:116025
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:4
Deposited By:Biological Sciences
Deposited On:2017-04-28
Last Modified:2017-11-01

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