The diet of red-tailed phascogales in a trial translocation at Alice Springs Desert Park, Northern Territory, Australia

Hayley Stannard, W. Caton, J. M. Old

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Red-tailed phascogales Phascogales calura are near-threatened (Friend, 2008) arboreal Dasyurids. A breeding programme was established at Alice Springs Desert Park in 2001 to aid species recovery. Twenty-five captive-bred phascogales were released into a suitable habitat at the park in 2006. If shown to be successful, the initial release was to be expanded with the release of further captive-bred phascogales into a suitable habitat in the nearby National Park and into South Australia. In this study, a dietary analysis was conducted to determine the preferred diet of the translocated phascogales in the park environment. Scats were collected during July-October, 2006 and January-March, 2007 from nesting sites within the park. Faecal samples were weighed, soaked in hot water and particles were separated through sieves before examination under a microscope. Scat analysis methods identified that red-tailed phascogales were primarily insectivorous with 92.6% of all scats containing arthropods. They are also opportunistic predators within the park, consuming birds (51.6%), small mammals (33.3%) and on occasion reptiles, and plant material (27.4%). Seasonal comparison of data through SIMPER analyses showed there was significant variation (P=0.009) between spring and summer, due to a large portion of birds present in the diet in spring. The red-tailed phascogale is able to exploit a number of prey types and it is therefore likely that they would survive a 'hard' translocation into the wild provided the site chosen has adequate food supply.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-331
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Zoology
Volume280
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2010

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