Diet and foraging behaviour of brush-tailed phascogales (Phascogale tapoatafa) in the jarrah forest of south-western Australia

F. R. Scarff, S. G. Rhind, J. S. Bradley

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33 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The diet and foraging behaviour of an arboreal marsupial, the brush-tailed phascogale (Phascogate tapoatafa tapoatafa), was examined in the jarrah forest of south-western Australia. Radio-tracking was used to confirm the species' nocturnal foraging habit and to make direct observations of foraging behaviour. Eleven stomachs, and a collection of 45 scats obtained during summer and autumn, were microscopically examined for content. The availability of major prey items (invertebrates found on or under the bark of tree trunks) was quantified. Phascogales proved to be foraging generalists, and their diet predominantly consisted of invertebrates. Some invertebrate taxa appeared to be preferred but few taxa were avoided. Active pursuit of vertebrates was negligible. However, the species appears opportunistic, and scavenging of vertebrates may contribute to the diet. Nectar was also taken, appearing to be a particularly prized but rare and patchy food source. It is suggested that the current and former distributions of this species have been constrained by both the seasonal reliability of rainfall and the diversity of food resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-526
Number of pages16
JournalWildlife Research
Volume25
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1998

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