Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats

Using faecal pellet counts along transects to estimate quokka (Setonix brachyurus) population density

Matt W. Hayward A B C D , Paul J. de Tores B , Michael J. Dillon C , Barry J. Fox A and Peter B. Banks A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

B Department of Conservation and Land Management, Wildlife Research Centre, PO Box 51, Wanneroo, WA 6946, Australia.

C Department of Conservation and Land Management, Dwellingup Research Centre, Banksiadale Road, Dwellingup, WA 6213, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Current address: Terrestrial Ecology Research Unit, Department of Zoology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth 6031, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Email: hayers111@aol.com

Wildlife Research 32(6) 503-507 https://doi.org/10.1071/WR03046
Submitted: 11 June 2003  Accepted: 21 July 2005   Published: 18 October 2005


A study was conducted to determine the validity of using transect counts of faecal pellet groups to estimate population densities of a threatened, macropodid marsupial – the quokka (Setonix brachyurus (Quoy & Gaimard, 1830)). Mark–recapture estimates of population density were regressed against counts of faecal pellet groups at six sites with and three sites without fox control within the northern jarrah forest of Western Australia. Significant linear relationships were found between population density and pellet counts for all sites (r2 = 0.56, P < 0.02) and when all unbaited sites were excluded (r2 = 0.98, P < 0.01). We suggest that this method could be used for broad-scale monitoring of this threatened species.


Thanks go to N. Valentine for field work assistance and B. Russell for sending references to Africa. This paper has been improved by the reviews of G. Dawson, J. Taylor, K. Ross, E. Jefferys, C. Myers and an anonymous reviewer. MWH was funded by an Australian Postgraduate Award and this project was funded by CALM. This project was conducted under WA Department of Conservation and Land Management Animal Experimentation Ethics Committee approval CAEC 1/97 and subsequent renewals, and animals were trapped under licence SF002928.


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