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Predation by red foxes limits recruitment in populations of eastern grey kangaroos

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Abstract

We investigated the impact of red fox (Vulpes vulpes Linnaeus 1758) predation on juvenile eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus Shaw 1790) using a replicated predator removal experiment. In two sites in Namadgi National Park, south-eastern Australia, a persistent 1080 poisoning campaign over 18 months reduced fox density by more than 85%, and to less than 10% of the fox density in two other sites with no fox baiting. Changes in the mother : young ratios and densities of kangaroo populations were monitored twice monthly along 2-km transects in each site from July 1993 to February 1995. Compared to nonremoval sites, where foxes were controlled, 25–40% more females retained juveniles over the period when these young became emergent from the pouch. This higher survival of emergent pouch young resulted in a significantly higher proportion of juveniles in kangaroo populations at fox control sites, which resulted in a significantly higher annual growth rate. We conclude that predation upon juveniles is an important limiting factor for kangaroo populations in Namadgi NP.

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