Predation risk and competitive interactions affect foraging of an endangered refuge-dependent herbivore


  • Editor: Matthew Gompper

  • Associate Editor: Hervé Fritz

Katherine D. Tuft, Australian Wildlife Conservancy, Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary, PMB 925, Derby 6728, WA, Australia. Tel: +61 2 9191 7014


Predators can have non-lethal effects on prey by causing animals to restrict their foraging in order to avoid predation risk. These effects can be of conservation concern when an introduced predator constrains the foraging behaviour of a threatened species, and therefore its access to resources. We examined the spatial response of foraging in endangered brush-tailed rock-wallabies to predation risk and food while taking into account the potentially competitive role of sympatric herbivores. We compared the occurrence (presence/absence) of rock-wallaby faecal pellets to the availability of edible vegetation, presence of sympatric macropods and predation risk factors such as distance from refuge and presence of shelter points. Rock-wallabies managed predation risk by foraging closer to their refuge and more often at shelter points. They foraged more where edible vegetation was higher, but only in the absence of predators and sympatric macropods, indicating that rock-wallaby foraging is restricted by their interactions with other species. The constraints on foraging behaviour demonstrated in this study can be used to guide management strategies aimed at conserving rock-wallaby populations.