Ease of access to an alternative food source enables wallabies to strip bark in Tasmanian Pinus radiata plantations
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-20, 13:51 authored by Smith, AH, David RatkowskyDavid Ratkowsky, Timothy WardlawTimothy Wardlaw, Caroline MohammedCaroline Mohammed
Bark stripping by the Bennett’s wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus (Desmarest) subsp. rufogriseus) from the lower stems of 3–6-year-old radiata pine (Pinus radiata D. Don) causes significant damage in Tasmanian plantations. The usual diet of this generalist herbivore is mainly grasses and broadleaved forbs. As the factors that attract a wallaby to supplement its diet by eating the bark of plantation pine trees are currently not elucidated, the present study aimed to determine how the incidence and severity of bark damage in 12 Tasmanian radiata pine plantations was influenced by various inter-site factors such as the floristic composition of the surrounding forest, and by various intra-site factors such as the height and circumference of individual trees, the number of branches in the first two whorls at the base of the tree, and their internode lengths. It was found that the greater the percentages of bare ground, bracken, and moss present in the five plots at each site, and the greater the percentage of grass, the wallaby’s main food source, the greater the likelihood of bark stripping. The difference between the mean minimum soil and air temperatures in spring, a driving force for carbohydrate production that occurs with tree growth in spring or early summer, was the only meteorological observation at the sites that was found to be significantly related to the extent of bark stripping.
Department/SchoolTasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA)
Place of publicationSwitzerland
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