Date of Award
Bachelor of Science Honours
Faculty of Communications, Health and Science
Dr Alan Needham
Dr J A Friend
After 125 years of presumed extinction, Gilbert's Potoroo (Potorous gilbertii) was rediscovered in 1994 in Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve, Albany. As only one population is known to exist, conservation is of prime importance. Faecal analysis was used to examine the diet of P. gilbertii. The species was found to be predominantly mycophagous (fungus-feeding) with invertebrate and plant matter fanning only a small part of its diet. Fungal material made up more than 90% of faecal matter throughout the year. A total of 44 fungal spore types were discerned. Of these, five were tentatively identified to species level with the remaining spores identified to genus, or assigned a representative name. The fungal genera Mesophellia and Hysterangium were the most frequently found and occurred in all faecal samples. Other fungal types in the faeces were found to change seasonally. Invertebrate and plant material comprise the minor dietary items with proportions of 2.4% and 1.6% respectively. The large amount of fungus in the diet of P. gilbertii closely resembles that of another endangered Potoroid, the Long-footed Potoroo (P. longipes). Diet studies of P. longipes indicate that it too is a specialised mycophagist. Consequently, conservation and diet issues of P. longipes could be incorporated into existing conservation strategies of P. gilbertii.
Nguyen, V. (2000). A diet study of Australia's most critically endangered mammal, Gilbert's Potoroo, Potorous Gilbertii (Marsupialia : Potoroidae). Retrieved from http://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses_hons/534