The feeding ecology of three species of North Queensland Upland rainforest ringtail possums, Hemibelideus lemuroides, Pseudocheirus herbertensis and Pseudocheirus archeri (marsupialia: petauridae)

Goudberg, Nicole Joanna (1990) The feeding ecology of three species of North Queensland Upland rainforest ringtail possums, Hemibelideus lemuroides, Pseudocheirus herbertensis and Pseudocheirus archeri (marsupialia: petauridae). PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Abstract

The feeding behaviour of three species of upland rainforest ringtail possums (Hemibelideus lemuroides, Pseudocheirus herbertensis and P. archeri) was studied in the field for 30 months in 1982, 1983 and 1985. They were found to be selective folivores, choosing diverse diets that changed with the phenology of favoured food species. Mature leaves constituted the bulk of the diet of P. archeri and H. lemuroides, while P. herbertensis ate more young leaves. Tree species and seasonal food items (young leaves, fruits, flowers) were not exploited in the same proportion in which they occurred. Rather, condensed tannin and fibre content determined whether they were included in the diet. Protein was not an important correlate to species feeding preferences although P. herbertensis selected a higher protein diet than the other species. H. lemuroides selected for a low fibre diet, and P. archeri selected for high fibre.

Both P. herbertensis and P. archeri preferred to feed on continuously leafing tree species. The diets of all three species became more specialized during the more difficult dry season, and became increasingly opportunistic during the wet season when there was more suitable food available. Foods were partitioned almost completely at the species and item levels. No interference competition for food between or within the three possum species was ever observed.

The field energy requirements of P. herbertensis and H. lemuroides were determined by the doubly labelled water method during September-October 1985 (spring). Although both rainforest species have a similar food intake, H. lemuroides uses more energy for free existence than P. herbertensis, and obtains extra energy from a significantly higher quality diet than P. herbertensis. Behavioural adaptations reduce the energy needs of all three species.

Item ID: 24106
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: diet; energetics; food preferences; Hemibelideus; Longlands Gap State Forest; Pseudocheirus; rain forests; rainforests; ringtail possums
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2012 11:46
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060801 Animal Behaviour @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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