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Diet and diet selection of two species in the macropodid browser-grazer continuum: do they eat what they 'should'?


Sprent, JA and McArthur, C, Diet and diet selection of two species in the macropodid browser-grazer continuum: do they eat what they 'should'?, Australian Journal of Zoology, 50, (2) pp. 183-192. ISSN 0004-959X (2002) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1071/ZO01043


On the basis of their dentition, species of Macropus are predicted to be grazers and species of Thylogale are predicted to be browsers. We tested these predictions by comparing diet and diet selection of the red-necked wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus rufogriseus) and red-bellied pademelon (Thylogale billardierii), by analysing forestomach contents of animals that had fed in the same region of a young pine plantation. Grasses, followed by broad-leafed forbs, were the most abundant plant groups in the field (together comprising 71% of the plant biomass), and were also the main dietary components of both macropodid species (91%). No differences were detected in diet of the two species when summarised in terms of diet diversity, evenness or overlap. When diet selection was compared, however, distinct differences were found between the two species. Red-necked wallabies selected for grasses (74% of the diet compared with 55% in the field) whereas red-bellied pademelons selected for broad-leafed forbs (38% of the diet compared with 16% in the field). Feeding patterns were therefore consistent with dietary predictions, provided diet selection was considered rather than simply diet. Diet selection is more appropriate for testing dietary predictions, because it reflects animals' attempts to consume food items that they prefer, that is, that they are functionally suited to consuming, even when such items are not as abundant as less preferred food.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Terrestrial ecology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences
UTAS Author:Sprent, JA (Dr Jennifer Sprent)
UTAS Author:McArthur, C (Dr Clare McArthur)
ID Code:24624
Year Published:2002
Web of Science® Times Cited:46
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2002-08-01
Last Modified:2011-08-02

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