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The diet of the Tasmanian Devil, Sarcophilus harrisii, as determined from analysis of scat and stomach contents

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Pemberton, D and Gales, S and Bauer, B and Gales, R and Lazenby, B and Medlock, K (2008) The diet of the Tasmanian Devil, Sarcophilus harrisii, as determined from analysis of scat and stomach contents. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania, 142 (2). pp. 13-22. ISSN 0080-4703

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Abstract

Knowledge of the diets of carnivores is an essential precursor to understanding their role as predators in ecosystems. To date, understanding of the diet of Tasmanian Devils, Sarcophilus harrisii, is limited and based upon largely qualitative descriptions. We examined the diets of Tasmanian Devils at six sites by identifying undigested hair, bone and feathers found in their scats. These sites range across different habitat types in coastal and inland Tasmania, and encompass devil populations that are known as both free of the Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) and populations that are infected by the disease. Tasmanian Devil scats at coastal sites (n=27) contained ten species of mammal, as well as birds, fish and insects. Scats collected from inland sites (n= 17) were comprised of six mammalian species, birds and invertebrates. The most common food items were birds, Common Brushtail and Ringtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula and Pseudocheirus peregrinus respectively), Tasmanian Pademelons (Thylogale billardierii) and Bennett's Wallabies (Macropus ruftgriseus). O fall the scats, 61% contained only one food group, 32% contained two groups, 4% contained three food items and only one scat (2%) contained four food groups. We supplement this information with stomach contents from road-killed devils, and compare our results with those of previous studies, with a view to furthering our understanding ofthe ecology ofthe threatened Tasmanian Devil. Such information will be important for the management of wild and captive devil populations, particularly in light of DFTD.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Royal Society of Tasmania, RST, Van Diemens Land, natural history, science, ecology, taxonomy, botany, zoology, geology, geography, papers & proceedings, Australia, UTAS Library
Journal or Publication Title: Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Page Range: pp. 13-22
ISSN: 0080-4703
Additional Information: Copyright Royal Society of Tasmania
Date Deposited: 15 May 2012 04:23
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 04:31
URI: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/id/eprint/13223
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