Small-scale patch selection and consumer-resource dynamics of eastern grey kangaroos

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Mammalogy, 2004, 85 (6), pp. 1053 - 1059
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Models of kangaroo populations have primarily focused on the prediction of population growth and distribution in relation to environmental variation at broad geographic scales. Current understanding of small-scale patterns in distribution, habitat breadth, and niche occupation is less complete. A powerful model of dispersion is ideal free distribution (IFD) theory. In plant-herbivore grazing systems, the most appropriate IFD models are those that allow for the incorporation of a standing crop of resources. Using eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus), we test the predictions of a previously described standing-crop IFD model where the number of consumers on a patch is proportional to the resource input rate, the standing crop of resources on all patches at equilibrium are equal (in the absence of interference), and the resource mortality rate is directly equivalent to the resource input rate, and is independent of the resource density (in the absence of interference). We make these comparisons at both the habitat and patch scale. At the habitat scale, we observed significant departures from these predictions that are consistent with the commonly reported occurrence of undermatching, whereas at the patch scale, little concordance with the predictions was observed. These results suggest that eastern grey kangaroos select for resources at the habitat scale but not at the level of the patch.
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