Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Herbert Covert

Second Advisor

Dr. Barbara Demmig-Adams

Third Advisor

Dr. Robert Buchwald

Abstract

Wildlife provisioning, the feeding of wild animals, is often a component of wildlife tourism in Australia -- tourism provides an important revenue source for the economy and is forecast to continue and grow. Therefore, the study of wildlife provisioning is necessary to understand and minimize its adverse effects.

My study addressed the impacts of provisioning on one particular wild native species group -- a provisioned colony of allied rock-wallabies (Petrogale assimilis) on Magnetic Island in northern Queensland, Australia. Twice daily (morning and afternoon) for two weeks, data were collected on the behavior of the individual rock-wallabies before, during, and after tourist provisioning. During each of these 28 site visits, observations of the rock-wallabies’ behavior, human presence, and provisioning were recorded.

The behaviors of the observed provisioned rock-wallaby colony differed dramatically from those observed and reported by others for non-provisioned populations of this species. These other supporting findings are particularly important because my observations were limited by the duration of the study and individual observation.

Only one colony of a limited number of rock-wallabies was involved. My observations of provisioning are in agreement with past observations of provisioned colonies in reporting diurnal activities, high population density, and high levels of aggression and contact between the rock-wallabies both during and after provisioning. Provisioning is thus associated with competition under high animal density in a restricted area. Future controlled studies are needed to confirm cause-effect relationships in the impact of provisioning on rock-wallabies.

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