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Parma Wallaby (Macropus parma) Fact Sheet: Diet & Feeding

Parma Wallaby Macropus parma

Diet

Diet in the wild

  • Primary diet: grasses and herbaceous plants (Read & Fox 1991; Warburton 2005)
    • Feed mainly on grasses, supplemented with herbs
    • In one Australian study, grasses 60% of diet (Read & Fox 1991)
      • Primarily Tussock grass (Danthonia species) and Blady grass (Imperata cylindricon)
      • Variety of other grasses and herbs
    • On Kawau Island (Warburton 2005):
      • Herbs:
        • St. John’s wort (Hypericum japonicum)
        • Creeping lady’s sorrel (Oxalis corniculata)
        • Bull or common thistle (Cirsium vulgare)
        • St. Veronica speedwell (Veronica plebeja)
        • Soliva anthemifolia
        • American water-pennywort or navelwort (Hydrocotyle americana)
        • Common or scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis)
        • White clover (Trifolium repens)
        • Parisian bestraw or cleavers (Galium parisiense)
        • Viney woodruff (Galium propinguum)
        • Centaury (Centaurium erythraea)
        • Cudweed (Gnaphalium gymnocephalum)
        • Cotula (Centipeda orbicularis)
        • Creeping dichondra (Dichondra repens)
        • Lotus species (Lotus pedunculatus, L. angustissimus)
      • Grasses and sedges:
        • Lachnagrostis filiformis
        • Nothodanthonia racemosa
        • Paspalum (Paspalum digitatum)
        • Sedge (Carex inversa)
      • Shrubs:
        • Pomaderris phyllicifolia
      • Trees:
        • Kanuka (Kunzea ericoides) (both leaves and bark)
        • Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata) (leaves only)
  • Also consume fungi (Jackson & Vernes 2011; Vernes 2010)
    • Parma wallabies eat many varieties of fungi, both above-ground mushrooms and truffle-like species
      • 30 fungal taxa detected in fecal samples in one study (Vernes 2010)
      • Different species consumed throughout year
      • Most common: Chamonixia, Hysterangium species, Russuloid 4, Thaxterogaste
    • Many marsupials in Australia eat fungi
      • Australia has over 2000 species of truffle-like (below-ground) fungi
      • Easy to digest and nutritious
      • Three-way symbiotic relationship
        • Truffles and trees
          • Truffles form associations with tree roots ("mycorrhiza"), receiving nutrients in the form of sugars
          • Trees with mycorrhiza benefit from increased nutrient uptake, drought tolerance, and disease resistance
        • Truffles and animals
          • Animals obtain nutritious, easy-to-digest food from the truffles
          • The truffles reproduce more effectively when their spores pass through animals feces

Feeding and Nutrition

Feeding areas

  • Grasslands, grassy woodlands, heathlands, and sedge swamps bordering dense forests

Grazing

  • Preferentially graze on previously ungrazed areas with abundant grasses
  • Consume food in an upright surveillance posture
  • Consistent with a small mammal's need to maximize energy intake while avoiding predation

Nutrition (Hume 1999)

  • Nitrogen requirements
    • At least double those of macropodid species living in drier habitats
      • Similar to red-necked pademelon (Thylogale thetis), another wet sclerophyll forest-dwelling macropodid
  • Intake of dry matter and water
    • At least double that of macropodid species living in drier habitats
      • Similar to red-necked pademelon
  • Tolerance to tannins in diet
    • Much lower tolerance than in browsing macropodid species
      • Tannins are bitter, protein-binding polyphenolic compounds produced by many plants for defense against browsers
      • Tannin-binding proteins in the saliva allow browsers to tolerate high levels of tannins in their diet
      • The parma wallaby, a grazer, has fewer of the tannin-binding salivary proteins than the red-necked pademelon, a browser

Page Citations

Hume (1999)
Jackson & Vernes (2011)
Read & Fox (1991)
Vernes (2010)
Warburton (2005)

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