Distance from cover affects artificial food-patch depletion by macropod herbivores
While, GM and McArthur, C, Distance from cover affects artificial food-patch depletion by macropod herbivores, Wildlife Research, 33, (7) pp. 565-570. ISSN 1035-3712 (2006) [Refereed Article]
Artificial food patches were used to examine whether red bellied-pademelons (Thylogale billiardierii) and Bennett's wallabies (Macropus rufogriseus rufogriseus) altered their foraging behaviour in an open habitat (a young plantation) in response to distance from cover, used as a surrogate for predation risk. Analyses using the full dataset showed no significant relationship between the amount of food eaten at a station and any of the cover variables. In contrast, regression analyses of the upper bounds dataset indicated that both increased distance from windrow (2.5-m-high stacks of burnt wood) and from nearest cover (windrow or forest at plantation edge) significantly reduced the amount of food consumed at a station. This indicates that distance from cover acts as a constraint on the amount of food eaten. When the feeding-station data were overlayed onto a map of scat densities across the study site, the amount of food eaten was positively related to the density of scats of both red-bellied pademelons and Bennett's wallabies. Our results demonstrate that these macropods trade-off increased foraging benefits in order to forage closer to protective cover. Furthermore, they represent the first time that artificial food patches, with progressively decreasing reward per search effort, have been used to assess foraging behaviour in macropods. This opens up a wide range of research opportunities aimed at examining macropod foraging, with both ecological and practical applications. © CSIRO 2006.
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