The effect of feral goats (Capra hircus L.) on the vegetation of Lord Howe Island


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The conflicting but informative literature relating to goats on Lord Howe Island (31° 35’5 159° 05’ E) is reviewed. Observations made in 1970–72 indicate that the effects of goats are localized. Invasion of goat camps by naturalized plants is widespread. Changes attributable to goats are considered and one well documented example is discussed in detail. The effects of goats and pigs are compared. Goats occupy different but overlapping habitats from pigs. A total of 228 goats was shot in an extermination programme. Overall density is 0·17 goats/ha but local densities may vary from 0·56 goats/ha to 26·34 goats/ha. Rumen content analyses indicate that goats are both selective and individualistic feeders. Naturalized plants are eaten in the same proportion as they occur in the flora. The relationship between naturalized weeds and goats appears to be commensal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-114
Number of pages12
JournalAustralian Journal of Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1976
Externally publishedYes


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