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Contrasting population manipulations reveal resource competition between two large marsupials: bare-nosed wombats and eastern grey kangaroos

Tamura, J, Ingram, J ORCID: 0000-0001-9448-3282, Martin, AM, Burridge, CP ORCID: 0000-0002-8185-6091 and Carver, S ORCID: 0000-0002-3579-7588 2021 , 'Contrasting population manipulations reveal resource competition between two large marsupials: bare-nosed wombats and eastern grey kangaroos' , Oecologia, vol. 197 , 313–325 , doi: 10.1007/s00442-021-04959-y.

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Resource competition is an important interaction that can structure ecological communities, but is difficult to demonstrate in nature, and rarely demonstrated for large mammals including marsupials. We analysed 10 years of population survey data to investigate resource competition between bare-nosed wombats (Vombatus ursinus) and eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus) at two sites to assess whether resource competition is occurring. At one site, wombat abundance was reduced by increased mortality from mange disease, whereas at the other site, kangaroo abundance was reduced primarily by culling. We used the modified Lotka–Volterra competition (LVC) models to describe the mechanism of resource competition and fitted those models to the empirical data by maximum likelihood estimation. We found strong negative relationships between the abundance of wombats and kangaroos at each site, and resource competition was also mechanistically supported by the modified LVC models. The estimated competition coefficients indicate that bare-nosed wombats are a slightly superior competitor of eastern grey kangaroos than vice versa, and that intraspecific competition is almost twice as strong as interspecific competition. In addition, this study facilitated the calculation of the transmission rate associated with mange disease at one site (0.011), and the removal rate owing to culling, the introduction of a predator species, and drought at the other site (0.0006). Collectively, this research represents a rare empirical demonstration of resource competition between large mammals and contributes new insight into the ecology of two of Australia’s largest grazing marsupials.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Tamura, J and Ingram, J and Martin, AM and Burridge, CP and Carver, S
Keywords: wombat, Lotka–Volterra model, niche overlap, herbivore, mammal, exploitative competition
Journal or Publication Title: Oecologia
Publisher: Springer-Verlag
ISSN: 0029-8549
DOI / ID Number: 10.1007/s00442-021-04959-y
Copyright Information:

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2021

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