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Do body size, diet type or residence time explain habitat use in a vertebrate herbivore community?

Do body size, diet type or residence time explain habitat use in a vertebrate herbivore community? Many theories attempt to explain patterns of community organisation among large herbivores. We explored the role of body size, diet type and residence time on habitat use in a community comprising four metatherians (western grey kangaroo, Macropus fuliginosus eastern grey kangaroo, M. giganteus red-necked wallaby, Notamacropus rufogriseus swamp wallaby, Wallabia bicolor) and two eutherians (red deer, Cervus elaphus European rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus) in south-eastern Australia. We used camera traps to estimate habitat occupancy, quantified habitat specialisation using relative entropy, and ran regressions using percentage grass consumed, log(mass) and log(time at site) as predictor variables and relative entropy as the response. If body size influenced habitat use, we predicted smaller species would occupy fewer habitats. If diet type influenced habitat use, we predicted intermediate feeders would use more habitats. If the time that a species had been present at a site predicted community organisation, newer species would use more habitats. None of these theories explained habitat use in our community. Red deer used a narrower range of habitats than expected, perhaps due to the poor suitability of habitats available in the Grampians. While interactions between our hypotheses are likely to be important, the body size model deserves further attention in this community. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Australian Journal of Zoology CSIRO Publishing

Do body size, diet type or residence time explain habitat use in a vertebrate herbivore community?

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Publisher
CSIRO Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © American Meteorological Society
ISSN
0004-959X
eISSN
1446-5698
DOI
10.1071/ZO15061
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Many theories attempt to explain patterns of community organisation among large herbivores. We explored the role of body size, diet type and residence time on habitat use in a community comprising four metatherians (western grey kangaroo, Macropus fuliginosus eastern grey kangaroo, M. giganteus red-necked wallaby, Notamacropus rufogriseus swamp wallaby, Wallabia bicolor) and two eutherians (red deer, Cervus elaphus European rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus) in south-eastern Australia. We used camera traps to estimate habitat occupancy, quantified habitat specialisation using relative entropy, and ran regressions using percentage grass consumed, log(mass) and log(time at site) as predictor variables and relative entropy as the response. If body size influenced habitat use, we predicted smaller species would occupy fewer habitats. If diet type influenced habitat use, we predicted intermediate feeders would use more habitats. If the time that a species had been present at a site predicted community organisation, newer species would use more habitats. None of these theories explained habitat use in our community. Red deer used a narrower range of habitats than expected, perhaps due to the poor suitability of habitats available in the Grampians. While interactions between our hypotheses are likely to be important, the body size model deserves further attention in this community.

Journal

Australian Journal of ZoologyCSIRO Publishing

Published: Jun 15, 2016

References