diet

Bone stable isotopes indicate a high trophic position for New Zealand’s extinct South Island adzebill (Aptornis defossor) (Gruiformes: Aptornithidae)

The adzebills (Aptornithidae) were an ancient endemic lineage of large flightless Gruiformes that became extinct shortly after Polynesian settlement of New Zealand. The diet and ecology of these enigmatic birds has long been a matter for conjecture, but recent stable isotope analyses of bones of the North Island adzebill (Aptornis otidiformis) have indicated that adzebills may have been predatory. Here, we add to our understanding of adzebill ecology by providing the first stable isotope analyses of South Island adzebill (A. defossor) bones from two Holocene deposits.

Feral pig (Sus scrofa) predation of a green and golden bell frog (Litoria aurea)

Feral pigs (Sus scrofa) are a threat to New Zealand’s biodiversity. Predation of frog species by feral pigs is a notable problem in other countries where pigs have been introduced. Our study aimed to determine through analysis of stomach contents if feral pigs are consuming frogs in the Waitakere Ranges, Auckland. Auckland Council contract pig hunters collected 274 feral pig stomach samples. Of these samples, 184 were screened for frog consumption via both dissecting microscope and DNA analyses.

Intraspecific variation in the foraging ecology of kea, the world’s only mountain- and rainforest-dwelling parrot

Intraspecific variation can have important knock-on effects on population dynamics and ecosystem processes. There are good indicators that intraspecific differences may exist in the foraging ecology of kea parrots (Nestor notabilis). Kea breed in two markedly different habitats (alpine and temperate rainforest), and have pronounced sexual size dimorphism of their upper bill, which may indicate niche partitioning between the sexes.

Causes and consequences of ground disturbance by feral pigs (Sus scrofa) in a lowland New Zealand conifer–angiosperm forest

The ecological impacts of feral pigs (Sus scrofa) are of concern in many places around the world. One noticeable impact is soil disturbance, although the causes and consequences are often unclear. We measured the effect of ground disturbance by feral pigs on seedling recruitment and soil ecology over 25 months on a forested riparian terrace at Waitutu, south Fiordland, New Zealand, and assessed the diet of pigs from the area from stomach contents of animals shot by hunters. Foraging by feral pigs for below-ground food disturbed between 7.4% and 12.4% of the soil.

A note on the food of feral pigs Sus scrofa) of Auckland Islands.

While studying the population of feral goats (Capra hircus L.) on the northern tip of main Auckland Island in summer 1972-73 (Rudge and Campbell, 1975) skeletons were looked for from which to estimate natural mortality. We found only two skulls, both without horns or lower jaws, and concluded that goat bodies were eaten by feral pigs. Some pig faeces were therefore collected around Port Ross, preserved in 10% formalin, and later washed apart on a I mm sieve. Identifiable items were listed as present or absent and scored by percent frequency of occurrence.

Habitat use and movements of the opossum (Trichosurus vulpecula) in a pastoral habitat on Banks Peninsula

The habitat use and movements of a population of Australian, brush-tailed opossums, Trichosurus vulpecula (Kerr), were studied by live-trapping, spotlighting and radiotelemetry in a mixed pasture, bush and scrub habitat on Banks Peninsula, New Zealand. Resident opossums had distinct ranges that for some animals varied in position and size and, for all, varied in intensity of use of habitat types during the year. Seasonal foods and breeding behaviour were reasons for shifts in ranges and changes in their sizes.

Autumn food of the brush-tailed opossum, (Trichosurus vulpecula [Kerr]) in the Otari Reserve, Wellington.

The stomach contents of 34 opossums collected from Otari reserve, Wellington, New Zealand, were examined and fragments of leaves and leaf cuticles were identified. Leaves were the main food though flowers, fruit and at least one insect were also taken. The main species eaten were kohekohe (Dysoxylum spectabile), pohuehue (Muehlenbeckia australis), hinau (Elaeocarpus dentatus), climbing rata (Metrosideros fulgens), five-finger (Pseudopanax arboreum), tawa (Beilschmiedia tawa) and lawyer (Rubus cissoids)

Seasonal diet of the ship rat (Rattus rattus) in lowland forest in New Zealand

The seasonal diet of ship rats in a stand of lowland podocarp-rata-broadleaf forest in North Island, New Zealand, was studied from analysis of 173 stomachs, 46 fresh droppings and 10 feeding trials. Arthropods, particularly tree wetas (Order Orthoptera), were the main foods in spring and summer, while drupes, berries and nuts predominated in autumn and winter. Birds were not an important food. Seasonal variations in the diet were related to the seasonal abundance of these foods in the forest

The feeding behaviour of the hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus L.) in pasture land in New Zealand.

A population of hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus L.) in pasture land in Canterbury was found to vary between less than four and eight per hectare. Feeding habits were studied through stomach contents and analysis of faeces. Grass grub beetles (Costelytra zealandica) and porina moths (Wiseana cervinta), both important pasture pests, were relatively important food items. Estimates of the number of grass grubs eaten in relation to their density and that of hedgehogs in pastures show that hedgehogs are potentially capable of consuming 10-40 percent of adult populations.

Diet of the opossum (Trichosurus vulpecula Kerr) on farmland north-east of Waverley, New Zealand.

On farmland near Waverley, New Zealand, 550 opossums (Trichosurus vulpecula) were shot between October 1968 and November 1969, and their stomach contents were analysed to find the ratio of pasture species to non-pasture species eaten. Pasture species (grass and clover) formed about 30 percent of their diet. The economic loss to the farmer, where opossums are numerous, could be considerable

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