Gut passage time and viability of seeds consumed by Australian marsupials

Date: 19, Nov, 2020
Author(s):   Beca, G., Palmer, B., Valentine, L.E., Erickson, T.E., Hobbs, R.J.
Publisher: Australian Mammalogy

Many Australian mammals consume seeds, but their role in seed dispersal has not been well explored. Here, we investigated the mean retention time and the postconsumption germination capacity of Australian seeds (Acacia acuminata, Dodonaea viscosa and Gastrolobium calycinum) likely to be consumed by quenda (Isoodon fusciventer) and woylies (Bettongia penicillata ogilbyi). Mean excretion times were 14 h for quenda and 24 h for woylies, but some seeds were retained in their digestive passages for up to 39.5 and 55.5 h, respectively. Viable seeds of all plant species were retrieved from both species’ scats and only G. calycinum seeds ingested by quenda had a significantly higher germination percentage (62%) than control seeds (34%). Our results show that viable seeds are deposited in the scats of quenda and woylies, indicating that these species may play a role in seed dispersal.