Preprint Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Ease of Access to an Alternative Food Source Enables Wallabies to Strip Bark in Tasmanian Pinus Radiata Plantations

Version 1 : Received: 12 February 2020 / Approved: 13 February 2020 / Online: 13 February 2020 (12:35:44 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Smith, A.H.; Ratkowsky, D.A.; Wardlaw, T.J.; Mohammed, C.L. Ease of Access to An Alternative Food Source Enables Wallabies to Strip Bark in Tasmanian Pinus radiata Plantations. Forests 2020, 11, 387. Smith, A.H.; Ratkowsky, D.A.; Wardlaw, T.J.; Mohammed, C.L. Ease of Access to An Alternative Food Source Enables Wallabies to Strip Bark in Tasmanian Pinus radiata Plantations. Forests 2020, 11, 387.

Journal reference: Forests 2020, 11, 387
DOI: 10.3390/f11040387

Abstract

Bark stripping by the Bennett’s wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus rufogriseus) from the lower stems of 3–6-year-old radiata pine (Pinus radiata) causes significant damage in Tasmanian plantations. The usual diet of this generalist herbivore is mainly grasses and broadleaved forbs. As the factors that attract wallabies 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. Site differences in the observed percentage of bark stripping were found to be related to ‘ease of access’ variables such as bare ground, bracken, and moss, ‘hindrance to access’ variables such as rock and woody debris, and the percentage of grass, the wallaby’s main food source, present in the five plots at each site. 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 statistically significant. Nevertheless, there was no direct evidence that it was the movement of sugars in the phloem tissue accompanying tree growth which provided wallabies with a supplementary food source.

Subject Areas

bark stripping; wallabies; supplementary food; radiata pine plantations

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