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Australian Mammalogy Australian Mammalogy Society
Journal of the Australian Mammal Society

Comparative foraging preferences of the greater stick-nest rat Leporillus conditor and the European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus: implications for regeneration of arid lands.

SA Ryan , KE Moseby and DC Paton

Australian Mammalogy 25(2) 135 - 146
Published: 2003


Dietary preferences of the greater stick-nest rat (Leporillus conditor) and the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) were compared using cafeteria trials and direct observations. Despite overlap, these species exhibited differences in dietary preference. L. conditor showed a strong preference for chenopod shrub species and other plant species with a high water content including Gunniopsis quadrifida and Calandrinia remota. L. conditor also preferred female bladder saltbush (Atriplex vesicaria) foliage to male. O. cuniculus ate a greater selection of plant species in most trials with their most preferred species including mulga (Acacia aneura), Salsola kali and Calandrinia remota. Both O. cuniculus and L. conditor preferred seedlings of perennial species to adult cuttings. L. conditor has recently been re-introduced to a 14 km² O. cuniculus, cat (Felis catus) and red fox (Vulpes vulpes) proof exclosure in the arid zone of South Australia. The re-introduction of this herbivore and the removal of exotic herbivores may change the vegetation structure and composition within the exclosure by restricting growth of some succulent chenopod species but allowing the regeneration of tall shrub species such as Acacia aneura which are usually limited by O. cuniculus grazing.

© Australian Mammal Society 2003

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