Jeff Balland, Catherine A. Herbert, Justin A. Welbergen, John M. Martin
Wildlife Research 47 (5), 381-390, (15 June 2020) https://doi.org/10.1071/WR19234
KEYWORDS: GPS telemetry, kangaroo, macropod, Osphranter robustus robustus, spatial ecology, urban
Context. In Australia, various species of macropods (family Macropodidae) are known to occur within peri-urban areas, where they can be a source of human–wildlife conflict. Some species, such as the eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus), have received considerable research attention over the past few years following demands from land managers for evidence-based management guidelines; however, the ecology of other macropod species found in peri-urban areas, such as the eastern wallaroo (Osphranter robustus robustus), remains poorly understood.
Aims. The aims were to determine the home range of male and female eastern wallaroos and assess habitat selection in order to define whether wallaroos in a peri-urban environment should be viewed as thriving (‘matrix-occupying’), persisting (‘matrix-sensitive’) or struggling (‘urban-sensitive’).
Methods. Home range and habitat use of six adult male, five adult female and one subadult male eastern wallaroo were investigated using GPS telemetry between October 2017 and May 2018 in the south-west of Sydney.
Key results. Home ranges (mean ± s.e.) of males (63.1 ± 10.2 ha) were significantly larger than those of females (31.1 ± 3.3 ha). Every adult wallaroo had highly overlapping monthly home ranges, indicating strong site fidelity in all individuals. Eastern wallaroos selected habitats based on vegetation composition during the night and canopy cover during the day. Grassland and open native woodlands were preferred during foraging activities at night. By contrast, human-modified habitats, including hard surfaces and lawns, were avoided at all times by all individuals.
Conclusion. The results indicate that eastern wallaroos avoid human-modified features in the landscape, so they could be viewed as persisting (‘matrix-sensitive’) in peri-urban areas.
Implications. Compared with matrix-occupying macropods, such as the eastern grey kangaroo, the eastern wallaroo is less likely to cause human–wildlife conflicts – a result of its avoidance of human-modified habitat. Land-use planning, involving green corridors linking remnant vegetation, should be implemented as part of urban planning to enable the persistence of diverse mammal populations in urban areas, particularly matrix-sensitive species.