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Patterns and causes of marsupial paths in subalpine Tasmania

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Nichols, EC and Kirkpatrick, JB ORCID: 0000-0003-2763-2692 2019 , 'Patterns and causes of marsupial paths in subalpine Tasmania' , Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania, vol. 153 , pp. 53-60 , doi: 10.26749/rstpp.153.53.

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Abstract

Animal paths can improve connectivity of species, alter vegetation growth, reduce fuel loads and further our knowledge of the behavioural ecology of mammals. Path patterning and the motivations for path creation are not well understood. The present study tested the hypotheses that animals form paths: (i) to efficiently move between palatable patches; (ii) for access to water; (iii) for access to shelter and (iv) to avoid predators. We used high-definition aerial online imagery to map paths in five treeless subalpine environments in Tasmania. Surveys of vegetation and scat counts were conducted at each site. We found that locality influenced wallaby scat density and that macropods and wombats created direct paths to move between areas of palatable vegetation, shelter and water. There was some weak indication of predator avoidance in some of the patterning. However, shelter from cold, strong southwesterly winds is a feasible alternative motivation for the patterns.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Nichols, EC and Kirkpatrick, JB
Keywords: landscape of fear, macropod, path, shelter, wombat
Journal or Publication Title: Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
ISSN: 0080-4703
DOI / ID Number: 10.26749/rstpp.153.53
Copyright Information:

Copyright The Royal Society of Tasmania

Collections: Royal Society Collection > Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
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