Journal article

Habitat-specific and season-specific faecal pellet decay rates for five mammalian herbivores in south-eastern Australia

Naomi E Davis, Graeme Coulson



The accuracy of population abundance estimates of mammalian herbivores from faecal pellet counts is potentially affected by pellet decay. We collected fresh pellet groups from hog deer (Axis porcinus), European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus), swamp wallaby (Wallabia bicolor) and common wombat (Vombatus ursinus) (n≤300 per species) at Wilsons Promontory National Park, Victoria, Australia. We deposited five pellet groups per species per month within each of five vegetation types in the park, then monitored pellet group decay over 24 months. We demonstrate that age estimation of pellet groups was inaccurate and is unlikely to improve the efficiency of..

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Funding Acknowledgements

This research was funded by Parks Victoria (Research Partners Program) and the Holsworth Wildlife Endowment. We thank David Forsyth (Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research) for providing advice during this research, and Parks Victoria staff for logistical support whilst in the field and for generously sharing their knowledge: Matt Hoskins, Elaine Thomas, Mick Keenan, Jim Whelan and Dan Jones. We thank Ian Gordon (Director, Statistical Consulting Centre, The University of Melbourne) for statistical advice. Comments by two anonymous reviewers greatly improved the manuscript.