Two techniques for assessing possum (Trichosurus vulpecula Kerr) diet from stomach contents ("point-sampling" and "layer- separation") are described and compared. Point-sampling involves sieving stomach contents, systematically selecting fragments from the retained material then, identifying and weighing these. Layer-separation involves separation, identification, and weighing of the discrete layers apparent in most possum stomach contents. In 41 of 43 stomachs examined, we were able to separate discrete layers that nearly always comprised a single food item.
The diet of red-crowned parakeets (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae novaezelandiae) and yellow-crowned parakeets (C. auriceps auriceps) was compared on Little Barrier Island, New Zealand between 1986 and 1987. Significant dietary differences were observed in these sympatric, congeneric species. Yellow-crowned parakeets ate significantly more invertebrates than red-crowned parakeets, which fed on a greater variety of plant foods.
The seasonal variation in possum browse and foliage cover of five possum-preferred species was quantified and studied in northern Westland, New Zealand over a 24 month period. Four of the five species (Pseudopanax simplex, P. colensoi, Aristotelia serrata, and Elaeocarpus hookerianus) showed marked seasonal patterns in both browse and foliage cover, with maximum browse evident in winter/spring when foliage cover was at a minimum. There was very little browse and no seasonal pattern in foliage cover for the fifth species, Pseudopanax crassifolius.
This study reports the diet of feral ferrets (Mustela furo) in a pastoral habitat, East Otago, South Island, New Zealand. Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) were the most common prey of ferrets, occurring in 86.7% of seats, but birds (12.4%) and invertebrates (11.3%) were also frequently eaten. Female ferrets ate more non-lagomorph prey items, especially invertebrates and birds than males. No significant dietary differences were found between juvenile and adult ferrets except in summer when juveniles ate more lagomorph prey.
Possum leaf diet from 1976 to 1989 in the Orongorongo Valley was compared with the diet recorded from four previous years, using faecal analysis. There were large differences in the proportions of species eaten in different seasons and between different years. There was little overall change in the proportion of the main diet tree species, Metrosideros robusta and Weinmannia racemosa, and seasonal increases or declines in one were usually balanced by opposite changes in the other.
Baited pitfall traps were used to sample Oligosoma maccanni and Oligosoma nigriplantare polychroma at Birdlings Flat, on Kaitorete Spit, Canterbury, New Zealand. The two species of skink showed distinctive patterns of habitat use with O. maccanni being almost entirely confined to dunelands while O. n. polchroma was invariably captured in the shrub-covered terraces behind the dunes. This is in direct contrast to what has been documented for these species in central Otago.
Food of the North Island kaka (Nestor meridionalis septentrionalis) on Kapiti Island was identified while quantifying the foraging activity of nine radio-tagged birds from March 1991 to January 1992. Additional food types were identified by opportunistic observation of feeding birds and qualitative examination of nestling faeces. A diverse range of food was taken, including wood-boring invertebrates, scale insects, seeds, nectar or pollen, fruits, and sap.
Feral goats (Capra hircus) were studied in the Mahoenui giant weta reserve, southern King Country, New Zealand, from March 1992 to February 1993. The reserve supports the main population of the undescribed Mahoenui giant weta (Deinacrida sp.). Gorse (Ulex europaeus) is the dominant woody browse plant in the reserve and provides protection, shelter and food for weta. The activities, foraging behaviour and diet of feral goats within the reserve were measured by direct observation and analysis of rumen contents.
Over five years from November 1982 to November 1987, we examined 395 mice collected from unlogged and logged native forest and from exotic forest at Pureora Forest Park, in the central North Island of New Zealand. Sex ratio, litter size, and breeding effort (pregnancy rate in females, proportion of males with visible tubules) were similar in all samples.
Populations of four species of carnivores were sampled over the five years 1983-87 at Pureora Forest Park, by regular three- monthly Fenn trap index lines supplemented with occasional control campaigns by shooting and additional traps. Stoats were the most frequently collected (63 captures), followed by weasels (18), cats (15) and ferrets (13). Stoats ranged throughout the mosaic of forest types but especially the older exotic blocks, hunting rabbits, rats, possums and birds. The mean age of 55 stoats trapped was 15 months, and their maximum life span about 5 years.