Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology

The distribution of red kangaroos, Megaleia rufa (Desmarest), about sources of persistent food and water in central Australia.

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Australian Journal of Zoology 13(2) 289 - 300
Published: 1965


Data from aerial surveys primarily designed to estimate the numbers of red kangaroos, Megaleia rufa (Desmarest), on about 4000 square miles of central Australia have been used to define the animals' distribution about sources of persistent food and water, both during severe drought and 6 months later after good rains had fallen. During the drought, 67.4% of kangaroos were sheltering in woodlands within 1/3 mile of open plains and water-courses (where food persisted), and only 17.4% were further than 1 mile away. After the rains, only 29.5% were within 1/3 mile of these drought refuges; 51.8 % were further than 1 mile away, but only 6% were beyond 6 miles out, i.e. beyond the mulga woodlands. Kangaroos were densest (seven-eight per square mile) during drought on land 2-4 miles out from bores and dams and within 2/3 mile of open plains because at that distance grasses on the plains respond to the grazing of cattle by sprouting green shoots which kangaroos prefer. Kangaroos drank at the bores and dams only during severe drought and may, therefore, get sufficient water from their food at most times. It is concluded that the kangaroos' distribution and changes in it are controlled primarily by their search for green herbage and shady trees.

© CSIRO 1965

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