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Villanova University

Publication Date

Fall 2010

Program Name

Australia: Rainforest, Reef, and Cultural Ecology


Urbanization and infrastructure build-up often includes many processes that can damage the natural environment in surrounding areas. Road, powerline, and dam construction, as well as mining, drilling, and overall land-clearing, have severe impacts that resonate through the adjacent wildlife communities. Some species, however, are able to persist in the fringes of urban environments; the swamp wallaby, Wallabia bicolor, is one such example in Australia. A different species of macropod, the red-necked wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus), is similar to the swamp wallaby in many ways but has failed to persist in the outskirts of urban areas. This study aimed to quantitatively differentiate the two species’ land and habitat use preferences at a landscape scale and examine how the swamp wallaby has survived close to urban areas while the red-necked wallaby has seemingly vanished in the areas surrounding Sydney. The swamp wallaby was demonstrated to be a generalist selector of habitat type, elevation, and slope, while the red-necked wallaby appeared to prefer open and flat areas; additionally, the swamp wallaby was attracted to urban environments while the red-necked wallaby apparently avoided them. This suite of traits suggests that the red-necked wallaby may have been brought into direct competition with humans when the Sydney area was colonized and been pushed into the forest interior habitats, while the swamp wallaby was able to take advantage of otherwise unsuitable area that was left as remnant vegetation. These results have implications for urban development strategies that must not overlook the specialized species, nor overstress those that appear to be able to persist.


Animal Sciences | Population Biology



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