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

Investigation into the diet of the central rock-rat (Zyzomys pedunculatus)

Theresa J. Nano, Cate M. Smith and Elizabeth Jefferys

Wildlife Research 30(5) 513 - 518
Published: 04 December 2003


The diet of the rare central rock-rat, Zyzomys pedunculatus, was assessed by microscopic analysis of 18 faecal pellet samples collected from four different sites in the west MacDonnell Ranges in the Northern Territory. Samples were collected from the four sites in summer (n = 13), one site in winter (n = 3), and two sites in spring (n = 2). Four major food categories were observed in the samples: seed, leaf, stem and insect. Seed was by far the most dominant food in the overall diet of Z. pedunculatus, making up 72% of identifiable particles, leaf was secondary (21%), while stem and insects contributed only 3% and 4% respectively. Although the sample size was small, no major seasonal shift between seed and invertebrate dominance was evident. Seed dominated the diet in both summer and winter, though winter seed consumption was lower (78% v. 58%). The level of seed consumption in the two spring samples was highly divergent (38% v. 93%), stressing the need for more samples to be collected from dry periods. Lowered rates of seed consumption during winter and in one of the spring samples were accompanied by increases in leaf consumption. Insect consumption remained low across all sampled seasons, suggesting that this species is not an omnivore. Rather, the dominance of seed in the diet suggests that Z. pedunculatus is primarily a granivore, a finding that has implications for the conservation status and management of this little-known species.


© CSIRO 2003

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