Matthew Quin is an honours student currently investigating the diet of Sambar Deer on the Bogong High Plains in Victoria. Although it is recognized that introduced deer cause significant detrimental changes to natural ecosystems, the ability of Sambar deer to aid or limit native and exotic plant species through dietary foraging and endozoochory (the process of moving plant seeds via faecal matter) is still relatively unknown.
Matt is investigating Sambar deer diet through DNA metabarcoding of faecal pellets, an advancing technology used for distinguishing multiple plant species within a sample. Additionally, the role of Sambar deer as plant-seed dispersers will be assessed through glasshouse germination trials of faecal pellets, providing insight into which plant species, whether native or exotic, are capable of surviving the digestive system and prospering from the endozoochory processes of Sambar deer.
Considering threats currently faced by the Victoria Alps as a result of climate change, this project has great importance for understanding additional Sambar deer browsing effects on Bogong High Plains ecosystems, and the prospect of plant species invasion as a result of endozoochory.