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22 May 2013 Foraging activity by the southern brown bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus) as a mechanism for soil turnover
Leonie E. Valentine, Hannah Anderson, Giles E. StJ. Hardy, Patricia A. Fleming
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Abstract

Mammals that forage for food by biopedturbation can alter the biotic and abiotic characteristics of their habitat, influencing ecosystem structure and function. Bandicoots, bilbies, bettongs and potoroos are the primary digging marsupials in Australia, although most of these species have declined throughout their range. This study used a snapshot approach to estimate the soil turnover capacity of the southern brown bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus, Shaw 1797), a persisting digging Australian marsupial, at Yalgorup National Park, Western Australia. The number of southern brown bandicoots was estimated using mark–recapture techniques. To provide an index of digging activity per animal, we quantified the number of new foraging pits and bandicoot nose pokes across 18 plots within the same area. The amount of soil displaced and physical structure of foraging pits were examined from moulds of 47 fresh foraging pits. We estimated that an individual southern brown bandicoot could create ∼45 foraging pits per day, displacing ∼10.74 kg of soil, which extrapolates to ∼3.9 tonnes of soil each year. The digging activities of the southern brown bandicoots are likely to be a critical component of soil ecosystem processes.

© CSIRO 2012
Leonie E. Valentine, Hannah Anderson, Giles E. StJ. Hardy, and Patricia A. Fleming "Foraging activity by the southern brown bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus) as a mechanism for soil turnover," Australian Journal of Zoology 60(6), 419-423, (22 May 2013). https://doi.org/10.1071/ZO13030
Received: 8 October 2012; Accepted: 1 May 2013; Published: 22 May 2013
JOURNAL ARTICLE
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KEYWORDS
biopedturbation
ecosystem engineering
soil movement
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