Ecological correlates of folivore abundance in north Queensland rainforests

Kanowski, John, Hopkins, M.S., Marsh, Helene, and Winter, J.W. (2001) Ecological correlates of folivore abundance in north Queensland rainforests. Wildlife Research, 28 (1). pp. 1-8.

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Abstract

The ecological factors controlling the distribution and abundance of the folivorous marsupials endemic to the rainforests of northern Australia are not understood. In this study, we surveyed folivore abundance at 40 sites stratified by altitude and geology in rainforests of the Atherton Tableland, north Queensland. All five species of folivore that inhabit the study area were more abundant in highland (800–1200 m) than in upland (400–800 m) forests. Allowing for the effects of altitude, four species of folivore were more abundant in forests on nutrient-rich basalts than in forests on nutrient-poor acid igneous or metamorphic rocks. The abundance of two folivore species also varied inversely with rainfall. Altitudinal variation in folivore abundance in the study area has been attributed to habitat destruction, Aboriginal hunting, the distribution of host plants and climate; however, none of these hypotheses has been tested. Variation in folivore abundance with geology is plausibly explained as a response to the nutritional quality of foliage. Foliage quality may also explain the inverse relationship between two of the folivores and rainfall. The results of this study show that only a relatively small proportion of north Queensland rainforests support abundant populations of the endemic folivorous marsupials.

Item ID: 13429
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1448-5494
Keywords: abundance patterns; animal ecology; rainforest
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2012 06:43
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060399 Evolutionary Biology not elsewhere classified @ 51%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management @ 49%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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