Seasonal Variation in the Diet of the Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat

Seasonal Diet Variation

The orange sunray, Hyalosperma semisterile, is an annual species that would only be available for wombats to feed on in winter and spring.

A collaboration between the University of South Australia, University of Adelaide and Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) to investigate seasonal changes in the diet of the southern hairy-nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons).

The southern hairy-nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons) is the faunal emblem of South Australia. Habitat conversion and deterioration have reduced the numbers of this communal wombat and recent diseases may pose a serious risk to the survival of this species. Yet little is known about the diet of these wombats. This project investigates the inter-seasonal variation in the diet of L. latifrons using field observations and next-generation DNA sequencing of scat samples.

The project aims to (for the L. latifrons population at the Yookamurra Wildlife Sanctuary):

1) estimate the seasonal availability of potential food species, and

2) determine seasonal changes in the diet of the wombat. Determining at which times of the year wombats are most susceptible to eating invasive plant species, could facilitate managing the intake of invasive plant species and thereby reduce the incidence of disease-related mortality.

The project is led by Gunnar Keppel (School of Natural and Built Environments, University of South Australia), Hugh Cross/Ed Biffin (School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide), and Noel Riessen (Australian Wildlife Conservancy).

Project Funding

The project has been funded ($3K) by the Lirabenda Endowment Fund of the Field Naturalists Society of South Australia.

For further information please contact Gunnar Keppel.

Areas of study and research

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