New Zealand Journal of Ecology (1989) 12(s): 97- 101

Footprint Pressures and Locomotion of Moas and Ungulates and Their Effects on the New Zealand Indigenous Biota through Trampling

Research Article
Kelvin Duncan  
Richard Holdaway  
  1. Department of Zoology, University of Canterbury, Private Bag, Christchurch, New Zealand

Foot area and structure, body weight and locomotion are compared in moas and ungulates to give estimates of pressure and edge loading when standing and moving. Moa foot pressures ranged from 0.15 kg/cm2 to 0.19 kg/cm2 which is very similar to those of emu feet. Red deer foot pressures were 0.395 kg/cm2, goat 0.430 kg/cm2, and tahr 0.35 kg/cm2. The differences in edge loadings were not so marked. During locomotion over soft ground, the ungulate hoof acts like a chisel, and as the toes splay out, the hoof edge shears the substratum. In contrast, the ratite foot is more flexible, and rolls off the ground causing little or no cutting damage with the edge. The action of the ungulate hoof is quantitatively and qualitatively different from that of moas in affecting the integrity of plants, animals, and substratum.