Kangaroo Population

One of the landmark developments in the global understanding of ecology was the interactive vegetation-herbivore model developed by Dr Graeme Caughley. Caughley led a team of expert researchers to test the model with red kangaroos in the Australian rangelands (Caughley 1976, 1987). This model is still being used as the basis of similar models for other species around the world. In an ACT research project, partnered with the Institute for Applied Ecology at University of Canberra, Caughley’s kangaroo model was modified for eastern grey kangaroos in a temperate environment, based on two years of intensive measurement of weather, pastures and kangaroo populations on the southern tablelands (Fletcher 2006). The resulting ecological model can be used to predict the outcome of kangaroo management proposals, thereby helping to test management strategies before they are attempted. 

measuring_pasture_growth_and_grazing_Googong

Laser_Rangefinder

Kangaroo_Yards

Measuring pasture growth and kangaroo grazing effects at Googong.

Using a laser rangefinder and compass rose at night in Namadgi National Park to estimate kangaroo density (kangaroos / ha) by the line transect method. Kangaroo eating rates were measured in these purpose-built kangaroo yards.

Models like this can increase the understanding of complex ecology, and are regarded as essential tools in this branch of science. It is often said that ‘all models are wrong’ (being simplifications) ‘but some are useful’. The population dynamics research is subject to ongoing improvement. It will complement other local research on kangaroo abundance, kangaroo home range and movements, and effects of kangaroo grazing pressure on grassland biodiversity. 

For more information about this research call Access Canberra on 13 22 81.