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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 59(5)

Diet analysis of mammals, raptors and reptiles in a complex predator assemblage in the Blue Mountains, eastern Australia

Jack H. Pascoe A, Robert C. Mulley A D, Ricky Spencer A and Rosalie Chapple B C

A School of Science and Health, University of Western Sydney, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia.
B Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute, Katoomba, NSW 2780, Australia.
C University of New South Wales, Kensington, NSW 2052, Australia.
D Corresponding author. Email: r.mulley@uws.edu.au

Australian Journal of Zoology 59(5) 295-301 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/ZO11082
Submitted: 6 November 2011  Accepted: 11 March 2012   Published: 5 April 2012


 
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Abstract

South-east Australia has a complex predator assemblage which has historically been vulnerable to introduced species. This is the first Australian field study to analyse samples from members of the families Canidae, Dasyuridae, Strigidae, and Varanidae to describe the diet and diet overlap between these predators. Samples were collected opportunistically and hair and bone analysis was used to identify the content of samples. Wild dogs (Canis lupus) and lace monitors (Varanus varius) predominantly consumed large mammalian prey, which contributed to the high level of diet overlap (Ojk = 0.79) between these two species. Foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and spotted-tailed quolls (Dasyurus maculatus) also had a high level of diet overlap (Ojk = 0.76), a result of their diets containing a high proportion of medium-sized mammals. The diet of wild dogs and foxes showed moderate overlap (Ojk = 0.59), and foxes were more likely to prey on species within the critical weight range than on macropods, which made up a high proportion of the diet of wild dogs. These data confirm that significant diet overlap can occur between predators from different taxonomic classes and further investigation of potential competition will be important to ongoing management.

Additional keywords: apex predator, competition, diet analysis, mesopredator release, niche overlap.


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