Skip to Main Content
Skip Nav Destination

Over more than a century there has been debate about the interactions of kangaroos and introduced domestic stock, especially sheep, in the semi-arid and arid rangelands. The potential for competition between the species is still controversial, with pastoralists generally assuming that exploitative competition is a continuing feature of the rangelands, with competition by kangaroos leading to reduced stock production and carrying capacity. The current scientific consensus is that in the arid rangelands such competition is not common and occurs largely during dry periods when pasture is sparse. Competition is probably most persistent in more degraded environments.

There is still debate on the level of impact of kangaroos on sheep productivity in those situations where competition does occur. Departments of Agriculture consider that a kangaroo has the competitive impact equivalent to 0.7 sheep (in dry sheep equivalents or DSE); however, this value is not supported by most current data. A value for the competitive impact of kangaroos per kg body weight of approximately 0.6 DSE translates into 0.4 DSE when body size is taken into account, kangaroos being much smaller on average than sheep, particularly in harvested populations. There are still questions to be resolved about the appropriate DSE value in harvested populations because age reduction produces a population that is actively growing and which may have high metabolic costs (teenagers). Despite this complication we suggest that a DSE of 0.4 per individual kangaroo is still an appropriate assumption. Real competitive impacts of kangaroos on stock will depend on season and rangeland condition. If rangeland health is satisfactory competition will occur only in dry times.

Ash, A. J., McIvor, J. G., Corfield, J. P. and Winter, W. H. 1995. How land conditions alter plant-animal relationships in Australian's tropical rangelands. Agricultural Ecosystems and Environments. 56:77-92.
Barker, R. D. 1987. The diet of herbivores in the sheep rangelands In “Kangaroos: their ecology and management in the sheep rangelands of Australia” (Eds G. Caughley, N. Shepherd and J. Short). Pp. 69-83. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Bilton, A. D. and Croft, D. B. 2004. Lifetime reproductive success in a population of female red kangaroos Macropus rufus in the sheep rangelands of western New South Wales: Environmental effects and population dynamics. Australian Mammalogy 26:45-60.
Caughley, G. 1987a. Introduction to the sheep rangelands. In “Kangaroos: their ecology and management in the sheep rangelands of Australia”. (Eds G. Caughley, N. Shepherd and J. Short). Pp. 1-13. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Caughley, G. 1987b. Ecological relationships. In “Kangaroos: their ecology and management in the sheep rangelands of Australia”. (Eds G. Caughley, N. Shepherd and J. Short). Pp. 159-187. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Cooper, C. E., Withers, P. C. and Bradshaw, S. D. 2003. Field metabolic rate and water turnover of the numbat ( Myrmecobius fasciatus). Journal of Comparative Physiology B 173:687-693.
Dawson, T. J. 1989. Diets of macropodoid marsupials: General patterns and environmental influences. In “Kangaroos, Wallabies and Rat Kangaroos” (Eds G. Grigg, P. Jarman and I. Hume). Pp. 129-142. Surrey Beatty and Sons, Chipping Norton, Australia.
Dawson, T. J. 1995. “Kangaroos: Biology of the largest marsupials”. University of New South Wales Press, Sydney.
Dawson, T. J. and Ellis, B. A. 1994. Diets of mammalian herbivores in Australian arid shrublands: seasonal effects on overlap between red kangaroos, sheep and rabbits on dietary niche breadths and electivities. Journal of Arid Environments 26:257-271.
Dawson, T. J. and Ellis, B. A. 1996. Diets of mammalian herbivores in Australian arid hilly shrublands: seasonal effects on overlap between euros (hill kangaroos), sheep and feral goats, and on dietary niche breadths and electivities. Journal of Arid Environments 34:491-506.
Dawson, T. J. and Hulbert, A. J. 1970. Standard metabolism, body temperature, and surface areas of Australian marsupials. American Journal of Physiology 218:1233-1238.
Dawson, T. J., McTavish, K. J. and Ellis, B. A. 2004. Diets and foraging behaviour of red and eastern grey kangaroos in arid shrub land: is feeding behaviour involved in the range expansion of the eastern grey kangaroo into the arid zone? Australian Mammalogy 26:169-178.
Edwards, G. P., Croft, D. B. and Dawson, T. J. 1996. Competition between red kangaroos ( Macropus rufus) and sheep ( Ovis aries) in the arid rangelands of Australia. Australian Journal of Ecology 21:165-172.
Edwards, G. P., Dawson, T. J. and Croft, D. B. 1995. The dietary overlap between red kangaroos ( Macropus rufus) and sheep ( Ovis aries) in the arid rangelands of Australia. Australian Journal of Ecology 20:324-334.
Fanning, F. D., and Dawson, T. J. 1989. The use of heart rate telemetry in the measurement of energy expenditure in free-ranging red kangaroos. In “Kangaroos, Wallabies and Rat Kangaroos” (Eds G. Caughley, N. Shepherd and J. Short). Pp. 129-142. Surrey Beatty and Sons, Chipping Norton, Australia.
Fisher, D. O., Blomberg, S. P. and Owens, I. P. F. 2003. Extrinsic versus intrinsic factors in the decline and extinction of Australian marsupials. Proceedings of the Royal Society, London B 270: 1801-1808.
Freudenberger, D. O. and Hume, I. D. 1993. Effects of water restriction on digestive function in two macropodid marsupials from divergent habitats and the feral goat. Journal of Comparative Physiology B 163:247-257.
Freudenberger, D. O., Wilson, A. D. and Palmer, R. 1999. The importance of perennial grasses for sheep production in the semi-arid woodlands of eastern Australia. The Rangeland Journal 21:199-219.
Grigg, G. 2002. Conservation benefit from harvesting kangaroos: status report at the start of a new millennium. A paper to stimulate discussion and research. In “A zoological revolution. Using native fauna to assist in its own survival.” (Eds D. Lunney and C. Dickman) Pp. 53-76. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman 2088 and Australian Museum.
Hacker, R. and McLeod, S. 2003. “Living with kangaroos: A guide to kangaroos and their management in the Murray-Darling Basin”. ISBN 07347 1505 6. New South Wales Agriculture, Sydney
Hume, I. D. 1974. Nitrogen and sulphur retention and fibre digestion by euros, red kangaroos and sheep. Australian Journal of Zoology 22:13-23.
Hume, I. D. 1999. “Marsupial Nutrition”. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Lunney, D. 1994. Review of official attitudes to western New South Wales 1901 - 1993 with particular reference to the fauna. In “Future of the fauna of western New South Wales”. (Eds. D. Lunney, S. Hand, P. Reed and D Butcher). Pp. 1-26. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman 2088.
McCullough, D. R. and McCullough, Y., 2000. “Kangaroos in outback Australia: comparative ecology and behavior of three coexisting species”. Columbia University Press, New York.
McCarron, H. C. K., Buffenstein, R., Fanning, F. D. and Dawson, T. J. 2001. Free-ranging heart rate, body temperature and energy metabolism in eastern grey kangaroos ( Macropus giganteus) and red kangaroos ( Macropus rufus) in the arid regions of south east Australia. Journal of Comparative Physiology B 171:401-411.
McIntosh, D. L. 1966. The digestibility of two roughages and the rates of passage of their residues by red kangaroos, Megaleia rufa (Desmerest) and the merino sheep. CSIRO Wildlife Research 11:125-135.
McLeod, S. R. 1996. The foraging behaviour of the arid zone herbivores, the red kangaroo ( Macropus rufus) and the sheep ( Ovis aries) and its role in their competitive interactions, population dynamics and life-history strategies. PhD Thesis, University of New South Wales, Sydney.
McLeod, S. R. 1997. Is the concept of carrying capacity useful in variable environments? Oikos. 79:529-542.
Moss, G. L. and Croft, D. B. 1999. Body condition of the red kangaroo ( Macropus rufus) in arid Australia: The effect of environmental condition, sex and reproduction. Australian Journal of Ecology 24(2):97-109.
Munn, A. J. and Dawson, T. J. 2003. Energy requirements of the red kangaroo ( Macropus rufus): impacts of age, growth and body size in a large desert-dwelling herbivore. Journal of Comparative Physiology B 173:575-582.
Nagy, K. A. and Bradshaw, S. D. 2000. Scaling of energy and water fluxes in free-living arid-zone Australian marsupials. Journal of Mammalogy 81:962-970.
Nagy, K. A., Girard, I. A. and Brown, T. K. 1999. Energetics of free-ranging mammals, reptiles and birds. Annual Review of Nutrition 19:247-27.
Nagy, K. A., Sanson, G. A. and Jacobsen, N. K. 1990. Comparative field energetics of two macropod marsupials and a ruminant. Australian Wildlife Research 17:591-599.
Newsome, A. E. 1966. The influence of food on breeding in the red kangaroo in Central Australia. CSIRO Wildlife Research 11:187-196.
Newsome, A. E. 1971. Competition between wildlife and domestic livestock. Australian Veterinary Journal 47:577-586.
Schoener, T. W. 1983. Field experiments on interspecific competition. American Naturalist 122:240-285.
Shepherd, N. 1987. Condition and recruitment of kangaroos. In “Kangaroos: their ecology and management in the sheep rangelands of Australia”. (Eds G. Caughley, N. Shepherd and J. Short). Pp. 135-158. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Short, J. 1985. The functional response of kangaroos, sheep and rabbits in an arid grazing system. Journal of Applied Ecology 22:435-447.
Short, J. 1986. The effect of pasture availability on food intake, species selection and grazing behaviour of kangaroos. Journal of Applied Ecology 23:559-571.
Wilson, A. D. 1991a. The influence of kangaroos and forage supply on sheep productivity in the semi-arid woodlands. Rangeland Journal, 13:69-80.
Wilson, A. D. (1991b). Forage utilization by sheep and kangaroos in a semi-arid woodland. Rangeland Journal 13:81-90.
This content is PDF only. Please click on the PDF icon to access.

Contents

Figures & Tables

References

Ash, A. J., McIvor, J. G., Corfield, J. P. and Winter, W. H. 1995. How land conditions alter plant-animal relationships in Australian's tropical rangelands. Agricultural Ecosystems and Environments. 56:77-92.
Barker, R. D. 1987. The diet of herbivores in the sheep rangelands In “Kangaroos: their ecology and management in the sheep rangelands of Australia” (Eds G. Caughley, N. Shepherd and J. Short). Pp. 69-83. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Bilton, A. D. and Croft, D. B. 2004. Lifetime reproductive success in a population of female red kangaroos Macropus rufus in the sheep rangelands of western New South Wales: Environmental effects and population dynamics. Australian Mammalogy 26:45-60.
Caughley, G. 1987a. Introduction to the sheep rangelands. In “Kangaroos: their ecology and management in the sheep rangelands of Australia”. (Eds G. Caughley, N. Shepherd and J. Short). Pp. 1-13. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Caughley, G. 1987b. Ecological relationships. In “Kangaroos: their ecology and management in the sheep rangelands of Australia”. (Eds G. Caughley, N. Shepherd and J. Short). Pp. 159-187. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Cooper, C. E., Withers, P. C. and Bradshaw, S. D. 2003. Field metabolic rate and water turnover of the numbat ( Myrmecobius fasciatus). Journal of Comparative Physiology B 173:687-693.
Dawson, T. J. 1989. Diets of macropodoid marsupials: General patterns and environmental influences. In “Kangaroos, Wallabies and Rat Kangaroos” (Eds G. Grigg, P. Jarman and I. Hume). Pp. 129-142. Surrey Beatty and Sons, Chipping Norton, Australia.
Dawson, T. J. 1995. “Kangaroos: Biology of the largest marsupials”. University of New South Wales Press, Sydney.
Dawson, T. J. and Ellis, B. A. 1994. Diets of mammalian herbivores in Australian arid shrublands: seasonal effects on overlap between red kangaroos, sheep and rabbits on dietary niche breadths and electivities. Journal of Arid Environments 26:257-271.
Dawson, T. J. and Ellis, B. A. 1996. Diets of mammalian herbivores in Australian arid hilly shrublands: seasonal effects on overlap between euros (hill kangaroos), sheep and feral goats, and on dietary niche breadths and electivities. Journal of Arid Environments 34:491-506.
Dawson, T. J. and Hulbert, A. J. 1970. Standard metabolism, body temperature, and surface areas of Australian marsupials. American Journal of Physiology 218:1233-1238.
Dawson, T. J., McTavish, K. J. and Ellis, B. A. 2004. Diets and foraging behaviour of red and eastern grey kangaroos in arid shrub land: is feeding behaviour involved in the range expansion of the eastern grey kangaroo into the arid zone? Australian Mammalogy 26:169-178.
Edwards, G. P., Croft, D. B. and Dawson, T. J. 1996. Competition between red kangaroos ( Macropus rufus) and sheep ( Ovis aries) in the arid rangelands of Australia. Australian Journal of Ecology 21:165-172.
Edwards, G. P., Dawson, T. J. and Croft, D. B. 1995. The dietary overlap between red kangaroos ( Macropus rufus) and sheep ( Ovis aries) in the arid rangelands of Australia. Australian Journal of Ecology 20:324-334.
Fanning, F. D., and Dawson, T. J. 1989. The use of heart rate telemetry in the measurement of energy expenditure in free-ranging red kangaroos. In “Kangaroos, Wallabies and Rat Kangaroos” (Eds G. Caughley, N. Shepherd and J. Short). Pp. 129-142. Surrey Beatty and Sons, Chipping Norton, Australia.
Fisher, D. O., Blomberg, S. P. and Owens, I. P. F. 2003. Extrinsic versus intrinsic factors in the decline and extinction of Australian marsupials. Proceedings of the Royal Society, London B 270: 1801-1808.
Freudenberger, D. O. and Hume, I. D. 1993. Effects of water restriction on digestive function in two macropodid marsupials from divergent habitats and the feral goat. Journal of Comparative Physiology B 163:247-257.
Freudenberger, D. O., Wilson, A. D. and Palmer, R. 1999. The importance of perennial grasses for sheep production in the semi-arid woodlands of eastern Australia. The Rangeland Journal 21:199-219.
Grigg, G. 2002. Conservation benefit from harvesting kangaroos: status report at the start of a new millennium. A paper to stimulate discussion and research. In “A zoological revolution. Using native fauna to assist in its own survival.” (Eds D. Lunney and C. Dickman) Pp. 53-76. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman 2088 and Australian Museum.
Hacker, R. and McLeod, S. 2003. “Living with kangaroos: A guide to kangaroos and their management in the Murray-Darling Basin”. ISBN 07347 1505 6. New South Wales Agriculture, Sydney
Hume, I. D. 1974. Nitrogen and sulphur retention and fibre digestion by euros, red kangaroos and sheep. Australian Journal of Zoology 22:13-23.
Hume, I. D. 1999. “Marsupial Nutrition”. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Lunney, D. 1994. Review of official attitudes to western New South Wales 1901 - 1993 with particular reference to the fauna. In “Future of the fauna of western New South Wales”. (Eds. D. Lunney, S. Hand, P. Reed and D Butcher). Pp. 1-26. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman 2088.
McCullough, D. R. and McCullough, Y., 2000. “Kangaroos in outback Australia: comparative ecology and behavior of three coexisting species”. Columbia University Press, New York.
McCarron, H. C. K., Buffenstein, R., Fanning, F. D. and Dawson, T. J. 2001. Free-ranging heart rate, body temperature and energy metabolism in eastern grey kangaroos ( Macropus giganteus) and red kangaroos ( Macropus rufus) in the arid regions of south east Australia. Journal of Comparative Physiology B 171:401-411.
McIntosh, D. L. 1966. The digestibility of two roughages and the rates of passage of their residues by red kangaroos, Megaleia rufa (Desmerest) and the merino sheep. CSIRO Wildlife Research 11:125-135.
McLeod, S. R. 1996. The foraging behaviour of the arid zone herbivores, the red kangaroo ( Macropus rufus) and the sheep ( Ovis aries) and its role in their competitive interactions, population dynamics and life-history strategies. PhD Thesis, University of New South Wales, Sydney.
McLeod, S. R. 1997. Is the concept of carrying capacity useful in variable environments? Oikos. 79:529-542.
Moss, G. L. and Croft, D. B. 1999. Body condition of the red kangaroo ( Macropus rufus) in arid Australia: The effect of environmental condition, sex and reproduction. Australian Journal of Ecology 24(2):97-109.
Munn, A. J. and Dawson, T. J. 2003. Energy requirements of the red kangaroo ( Macropus rufus): impacts of age, growth and body size in a large desert-dwelling herbivore. Journal of Comparative Physiology B 173:575-582.
Nagy, K. A. and Bradshaw, S. D. 2000. Scaling of energy and water fluxes in free-living arid-zone Australian marsupials. Journal of Mammalogy 81:962-970.
Nagy, K. A., Girard, I. A. and Brown, T. K. 1999. Energetics of free-ranging mammals, reptiles and birds. Annual Review of Nutrition 19:247-27.
Nagy, K. A., Sanson, G. A. and Jacobsen, N. K. 1990. Comparative field energetics of two macropod marsupials and a ruminant. Australian Wildlife Research 17:591-599.
Newsome, A. E. 1966. The influence of food on breeding in the red kangaroo in Central Australia. CSIRO Wildlife Research 11:187-196.
Newsome, A. E. 1971. Competition between wildlife and domestic livestock. Australian Veterinary Journal 47:577-586.
Schoener, T. W. 1983. Field experiments on interspecific competition. American Naturalist 122:240-285.
Shepherd, N. 1987. Condition and recruitment of kangaroos. In “Kangaroos: their ecology and management in the sheep rangelands of Australia”. (Eds G. Caughley, N. Shepherd and J. Short). Pp. 135-158. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Short, J. 1985. The functional response of kangaroos, sheep and rabbits in an arid grazing system. Journal of Applied Ecology 22:435-447.
Short, J. 1986. The effect of pasture availability on food intake, species selection and grazing behaviour of kangaroos. Journal of Applied Ecology 23:559-571.
Wilson, A. D. 1991a. The influence of kangaroos and forage supply on sheep productivity in the semi-arid woodlands. Rangeland Journal, 13:69-80.
Wilson, A. D. (1991b). Forage utilization by sheep and kangaroos in a semi-arid woodland. Rangeland Journal 13:81-90.
Close Modal

or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal