Efficacy of exclusion fencing to protect ephemeral floodplain lagoon habitats from feral pigs (Sus scrofa)
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- Doupé, R.G., Mitchell, J., Knott, M.J. et al. Wetlands Ecol Manage (2010) 18: 69. doi:10.1007/s11273-009-9149-3
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Foraging by feral pigs can strongly affect wetland vegetation assemblages and so too wider ecological processes, although their effects on freshwater ecosystems have seldom been studied. We assessed the ecological effects of pig foraging in replicate fenced and unfenced ephemeral floodplain lagoons in tropical north-eastern Australia. Pig foraging activities in unfenced lagoons caused major changes to aquatic macrophyte communities and as a consequence, to the proportional amounts of open water and bare ground. The destruction of macrophyte communities and upheaval of wetland sediments significantly affected wetland turbidity, and caused prolonged anoxia and pH imbalances in the unfenced treatments. Whilst fencing of floodplain lagoons will protect against feral pig foraging activities, our repeated measures of many biological, physical and chemical parameters inferred that natural seasonal (i.e. temporal) effects had a greater influence on these variables than did pigs. To validate this observation requires measuring how these effects are influenced by the seemingly greater annual disturbance regime of variable flooding and drying in this tropical climate.