Comparative dietary analysis of the black-flanked rock-wallaby (Petrogale lateralis lateralis), the euro (Macropus robustus erubescens) and the feral goat (Capra hircus) from Cape Range National Park, Western Australia
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The black-flanked rock-wallaby (Petrogale lateralis lateralis) is a threatened species, once widespread throughout Western Australia but now restricted to disjunct populations including those of Cape Range National Park. It is a herbivore with a foraging range restricted to rocky outcrops and, as such, may be impacted by competition for resources from other native or introduced herbivores. This study compared the diet of the black-flanked rock-wallaby with those of co-occurring species, the euro (Macropus robustus erubescens) and the feral goat (Capra hircus), from two gorges at Cape Range National Park, to determine whether there is overlap in dietary niches. Diet composition was determined using microhistological analysis of faecal pellets in comparison with reference plant material. The black-flanked rock-wallaby diet consisted predominately of browse/forbs with some variation across seasons (63% in summer months 74% in winter months) this overlapped significantly with the diet of goats (Schoener Index: 0.79-0.88), but not euros (SI: 0.41-0.57), whose diet consisted predominantly of grasses (72-78%). There was, however, a significant overlap in the consumption of plants with stellate hairs for all three herbivores (SI: 0.89-0.98). Dietary overlap between rock-wallabies and goats may indicate a mechanism for competition, supporting continuing measures for reduction of goat numbers in Cape Range National Park.
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