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Aspects of the behaviour of the red-bellied pademelon Thylogale billardierii (Desmarest 1822) in captivity


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Clancy, TF 1982 , 'Aspects of the behaviour of the red-bellied pademelon Thylogale billardierii (Desmarest 1822) in captivity', Honours thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Aspects of the behaviour of a captive group of red-bellied pademelons
(Thylogale billardierii), were investigated, concentrating on
three main areas, viz. diel activity-patterns, sexual interactions and
agonistic interactions. Some data pertaining to mother-offspring
relationships were also collected.
T. billardierii exhibited a marked peak in feeding at around sunset,
with other conspicuous peaks occurring late at night and in the
early morning. Conversely, peaks of resting behaviour occurred mainly
at midday and, in general, two distinct peaks were evident during the
night. Locomotory activities were most frequent during the period
immediately preceding dawn.
Grooming behaviour was performed at relatively constant diel
levels; however, there was evidence of this activity occurring at
greater frequencies before and after rest periods.
Although patterns of the various diel activities were generally
similar in all of the subjects studied, there were some disparities in
the times of performance of certain behaviours between individual subjects,
possibly related to the social structure of the group. The
results are discussed in relation to what is known of the activity patterns
of free-ranging T. billardierii and those of other macropod
As well as indications of temporal variations in behaviour
patterns, there was evidence of spatial-temporal stratification of
certain behaviours, notably resting activities.
Quantitative data were collected on sexual interactions. Males
were the active participants in these, both in terms of initiating such
interactions and performing specific and distinctive behaviours within
bouts of sexual interactions. Analyses of behavioural events occurring
in the context of anoestrous courting yielded consistent trends with respect to the temporal ordering of activities. Male T. billardierii
did not distribute their attentions equally among potentially available
females but evidenced definite preferences for certain individuals.
Observed instances of copulation are described and compared with
previous descriptive accounts of the behaviour in this species and
in other species of macropods. There was some evidence that access
to oestrous females was determined aprioristically, by the dominancestatus
of males.
The agonistic behaviour of T. billardierii was also investigated.
Generally, linear hierarchies existed within each monosexual group.
However, when all subjects were considered together a non-linear organization
was noted to occur. Position in the individual hierarchies
was related to weight but, at least in the case of female subjects,
this was shown not to be the only factor involved. A relatively low
level of aggression occurred between female subjects and also in
male-female interactions. Given the relative stability of the social
positions of individuals and low observed frequencies of dominancereversals,
it is suggested that individual recognition (possibly based
on olfactory cues gained by nose-sniffing behaviour) plays a prominent
role in the maintenance of consistent social relationships in captive
T. billardierii.
Ritualized fighting behaviour of male T. billardierii is described,
and its possible function is discussed. Grass-pulling and other visual
displays which occur in the context of male-male interactions are described
and their relationship with similar displays occurring in
other macropods is considered.
In mother-offspring interactions it was found that the young was
primarily responsible for the maintenance of proximity, but that the
mother played a greater role in maintaining proximity at larger

Item Type: Thesis - Honours
Authors/Creators:Clancy, TF
Copyright Holders: The Author
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Copyright 1982 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
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