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

Ecology of the rufous hare-wallaby, Lagorchestes hirsutus Gould (Marsupialia : Macropodidae) in the Tanami Desert, Northern Territory. III Interactions with introduced mammal species.

G Lundie-Jenkins, LK Corbett and CM Phillips

Wildlife Research 20(4) 495 - 511
Published: 1993


This paper reports a study of the interactions between a remnant population of the rufous hare-wallaby, Lagorchestes hirsutus, and populations of several introduced mammal species in a region of the Tanami Desert. Transect counts of faecal pellets and tracks were used to determine the local distributions of all species and analysis of faeces from both predators and competitors of hare-wallabies was undertaken. Six species of introduced mammals were recorded within the study area: dingoes, rabbits, camels, foxes, feral cats and cattle. The local distributions for a number of these species were found to be significantly correlated with that of L. hirsutus during some seasons. Analysis of dingo scats collected from fire trails within the study area identified a total of 12 different food classes including harewallabies which occurred in 6.9% of the scats. Foxes and feral cats appear to be more important predators as demonstrated by their impacts on natural and reintroduced populations of hare-wallabies. Comparison of the diets of the rabbit and L. hirsutus identified significant overlap in utilised plant species, particularly during drier times. Competition between rabbits and L. hirsutus seems probable, given the overlap of their diets and their similar body sizes and metabolic requirements. Cattle and camels are potentially as important at densities above present levels. The complex web of interactions between L. hirsutus and these introduced species have important implications for management of remnant and reintroduced hare-wallaby populations.


© CSIRO 1993

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