A physiological assessment of the use of water point closures to control kangaroo numbers

Underhill, S., Grigg, G. C., Pople, A. R. and Yates, D. J. (2007) A physiological assessment of the use of water point closures to control kangaroo numbers. Wildlife Research, 34 4: 280-287. doi:10.1071/WR06041

Author Underhill, S.
Grigg, G. C.
Pople, A. R.
Yates, D. J.
Title A physiological assessment of the use of water point closures to control kangaroo numbers
Journal name Wildlife Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1035-3712
Publication date 2007
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1071/WR06041
Volume 34
Issue 4
Start page 280
End page 287
Total pages 8
Editor C. Myers
Place of publication East Melbourne, Vic, Australia
Publisher CSIRO Publishing
Collection year 2008
Language eng
Subject C1
270603 Animal Physiology - Systems
770903 Living resources (flora and fauna)
0608 Zoology
Formatted abstract
Controlling kangaroo grazing pressure in national parks without harvesting or culling presents a significant challenge. Fencing off waterpoints is often tried or contemplated as a control measure, but its success obviously depends upon the extent to which kangaroos require access to discrete sources of drinking water. To assess the necessity for red kangaroos to supplement dietary water intake under different conditions by drinking free water, we followed changes in diet and in forage water and energy content as severe drought deepened at Idalia National Park in central Queensland from February to July 2002, the driest of 13 years for which records exist. Animals smaller than 15 kg in February and 25 kg in April did not need free water, but larger individuals needed to drink throughout the period. By July all animals needed to drink. The influence of body size arises because water requirements scale almost proportionally with body mass (M0.92) while energy requirements scale with a lower exponent (M0.74). Because of the sexual dimorphism in red kangaroos, adult females are therefore better able than adult males to survive water shortage. The results help define the constraints that physiological capabilities confer upon the usefulness of fencing off water points to control kangaroos. Smaller (younger) males and females could tolerate dry, cool conditions without drinking, even in this very dry year, but kangaroos of all body sizes needed to drink as the drought became more severe. The effectiveness of water closure will therefore depend on what forage is available, will target larger animals selectively, and will be most effective in semiarid areas like Idalia National Park in very dry years and late in the dry season when temperatures are rising and water requirements increase because of additional requirements for thermoregulation.
© CSIRO 2007
Keyword Ecology
Macropus-rufus desmarest
Red kangaroos
Mammalian herbivores
Fiber digestion
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code

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Created: Thu, 08 May 2008, 09:12:15 EST by Sian Rodgie on behalf of School of Biological Sciences