Fuchsia (Fuchsia excorticata) has been heavily browsed and often killed by brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) in many New Zealand indigenous forests, but remains healthy at some sites despite long histories of possum occupation. To determine whether fuchsia varied genetically in its palatability to possums, material from six widely dispersed stands (provenances) was propagated, and leaf chemistry, leaf morphology, growth rate, and palatability to captive possums was compared.
Brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) were offered Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) eggs and day-old domestic chickens (Gallus gallus) during a captive feeding trial. Differences in feeding sign left by possums of differing sex, age class, and hunger were slight or absent. Possum feeding trial remains were also compared with remains of North Island robin (Petroica australis longipes) and North Island tomtit (Petroica macrocephala toitoi) eggs and chicks preyed on by ship rats (Rattus rattus) at videoed nests.