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Habitat Use and Social Organization of Nine Sympatric Species of Macropodid Marsupials

John H. Kaufmann
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1379257 66-80 First published online: 30 March 1974


Nine species of macropods were observed on 5.2 square kilometers in northeastern New South Wales. The terrain was hilly and covered with a mosaic of closed-forest, open-forest (much of it extensively ringbarked), and cleared pasture land. Most of the species were narrowly restricted to particular habitats, but the whiptail wallaby used all but the closed-forest, and the red-necked wallaby used even that to a limited extent. All nine species grazed on native and introduced pasture plants, and some also browsed. Most were nocturnal, but the grey kangaroo and especially the whiptail wallaby were also active during the day. These two species were also the most social. Local populations of both species were divided into discrete social units or mobs, whose members gathered in subgroups of varying size and composition. Scrub wallabies and rock wallabies are apparently also social; the other species are essentially solitary. The larger species in more open habitat grazed and rested together peacefully. The successful sympatry of these species was due largely to the diversity and interspersion of habitats; more detailed information is needed on their food habits. Their respective levels of sociality reflected each species' combination of group-facilitating adaptations.

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