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Diets of sympatric native and introduced carnivores in the Barrington Tops, eastern Australia



Invasive predators have severe impacts on global biodiversity, and their effects in Australia have been more extreme than on any other continent. The spotted-tailed quoll (Dasyurus maculatus), an endangered marsupial carnivore, coexists with three eutherian carnivores, the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), feral cat (Felis catus) and wild dog (Canis lupus ssp.) with which it did not coevolve. No previous study has investigated dietary overlap between quolls and the suite of three eutherian carnivores. By analysing scats, we aimed to quantify dietary overlap within this carnivore assemblage in eastern Australia, and to detect any differences that may facilitate coexistence. We also sought evidence of intraguild predation. Dietary overlap between predators was extensive, with the greatest similarity occurring between foxes and cats. However, some differences were apparent. For example, cats mainly consumed smaller prey, and wild dogs larger prey. Quolls showed greater dietary overlap with foxes and cats than with dogs. Intraguild predation was evident, with fox remains occurring in 3% of wild dog scats. Our results suggest wild dogs competitively dominate invasive foxes, which in turn are likely to compete with the endangered quoll.