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Diet of wild boar Sus scrofa L. and crop damage in an intensive agroecosystem

Abstract

The Middle Ebro Valley (MEV) is a semiarid area in northeast Iberia where the original riparian ecosystems are almost extinct and were replaced by intensive irrigated agricultural lands. To minimize crop damages and to understand the impact of wild boar on relict riparian ecosystems, a culling program was undertaken from 1994 until 2004. To assess the impact of wild boars, we analyzed stomach contents and surveyed crop damage. In the MEV, wild boars feed mainly on crops, particularly, maize. Other elements of the diet that are of agricultural origin include wheat, barley, and alfalfa, which are the alternatives to maize in the period between harvest and seeding, which is the basis of seasonal changes in diet. Results indicate that wild boar actively selected maize crops and consumed wheat in proportion to its abundance; barley and alfalfa fields were damaged less than expected based on their abundance. In the MEV, the wild boar population is limited by the availability of shelter areas found in the scarce riparian ecosystems, which do not provide important food items for this population. We conclude that in the region of this study, wild boars are not a significant threat to the flora and fauna of riparian ecosystems, although as these habitats are restored and areas are protected, the carrying capacity for wild boars might increase.

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Acknowledgements

The Government of Aragon supported the research by financing several consultancy projects. We thank J. Goñi and his hunting group; the rangers, J. Urbón, F. Sebastián, A. Berrueco, and R. Regal; the wildlife managers, M. Cabrera, M. A. Muñoz, E. Escudero, and J. Guerrero; A. Campos, P. Arias, N. Gañán, Y. Hernández, N. A. Laskurian, I. Irizar, A.Giménez-Anaya, and E. Gil who helped us in the field and in the lab; and P. Monserrat, D. Gómez, J. A. Sesé, and J. Aguirre of the Pyrenean Institute for Ecology for de visu plant identification. B. MacWhirter improved the English. The research and culling program complied with Aragonian, Spanish, and European legislation.

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Herrero, J., García-Serrano, A., Couto, S. et al. Diet of wild boar Sus scrofa L. and crop damage in an intensive agroecosystem. Eur J Wildl Res 52, 245–250 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10344-006-0045-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10344-006-0045-3

Keywords

  • Maize
  • Wetlands
  • Protected areas
  • Limiting factor