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Vigilance in a solitary marsupial, the common wombat (Vombatus ursinus)

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 01:58 authored by Favreau, FR, Jarman, PJ, Goldizen, AW, Dubot, AL, Sourice, S, Pays, O
We studied vigilance activity in a wild population of the common wombat (Vombatus ursinus), a large, solitary, burrow-using, marsupial prey species in which individuals tolerate the presence of conspecifics within their home range. For the first time, we report postures and rates of vigilance in common wombats; our results show a limited repertoire of vigilant postures and low overall rates of vigilance. Because few studies of birds and mammals that have reported the effect of distance to conspecifics on the vigilance of focal animals have considered solitary prey species, we tested this effect in wombats. Our results show that a model including distance to cover and distance to the nearest conspecific, but not time of day, best explained the variation in the proportion of time that focal individuals spent in vigilance. Individual vigilance decreased when distance to cover increased. Vigilance of wombats increased when there was a conspecific within a radius of 70 m of the focal individual. In addition, we tested whether pairs of nearby wombats scanned independently of one another, coordinated their activity in non-overlapping bouts of vigilance or synchronised their bouts of vigilance. Wombats in close proximity exhibited independent bouts of individual vigilant and foraging activity. Thus, in this solitary species, our results support the assumption that individuals scan independently of each other.


Publication title

Australian Journal of Zoology










School of Natural Sciences


C S I R O Publishing

Place of publication

150 Oxford St, Po Box 1139, Collingwood, Australia

Rights statement

Copyright © 2009 CSIRO

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Socio-economic Objectives

Terrestrial biodiversity

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