Estimating the proportions of various leaves in the diet of the opposum, Trichosurus vulpecula Kerr, by faecal analysis

Feeding trials were carried out, with captive opossums, using leaves of native New Zealand trees, mixed in known proportions by weight and area, to assess the reliability of the proportions of cuticular fragments in the faeces as indicators of the proportions ingested. All species fed to the animals were detected from fragments of cuticles in the faeces, but the resistance of cuticles to digestion varied between tree species, between individual opossums on the same diet, and in the same opossum in different feeding trials. Such variation clearly restricts the application of the technique in field studies. The experiments were restricted to diets containing mature leaves, and work is still required to assess the usefulness of the method for immature leaves, new shoots, fruit and flowers, all of which form part of the diet of the opossum in native forests in New Zealand. (auth

Author G. M. Dunnet, A. E. Harvie and T. J. Smit
Year 1973
Secondary title Journal of Applied Ecology
Volume 10
Pages 737-745