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Mammalian Biology

, Volume 77, Issue 3, pp 183–189 | Cite as

Differences in diet and trophic interactions of Patagonian carnivores between areas with mostly native or exotic prey

  • Rocío PalaciosEmail author
  • R. Susan Walker
  • Andrés J. Novaro
Original Investigation

Abstract

The prey base for Patagonian carnivores has been altered greatly over the past 150 years due to widespread overgrazing by livestock, invasions by exotic wildlife, and hunting. On ranches in northern Patagonia carnivores consume mostly exotic species, and native herbivores are ecologically extinct in their role as prey. In this study we compare diets of the culpeo (Lycalopex culpaeus), chilla (L. griseus), puma (Puma concolor), Geoffroy’s cat (Leopardus geoffroyi), colocolo (L. colocolo), and hog-nosed skunks (Conepatus chinga and C. humboldtii) in a reserve with a mostly native prey base to their diets on the ranches, and evaluate how differences in prey bases affect trophic interactions among carnivores. Carnivores in the reserve consumed mostly native prey. Dietary overlap among carnivores was not significant on the reserve, but was highly significant on the ranches. This homogenization of diets where densities of native species are reduced could lead to stronger negative interactions among carnivores, altering the composition of the carnivore assemblage to the detriment of the more specialized species. Study of carnivore diets may be a relatively quick way to evaluate the conservation status and ecological functionality of prey assemblages in Patagonia and other areas where these have been altered.

Keywords

Ecological function Food habits Prey biomass Argentina 

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Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rocío Palacios
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • R. Susan Walker
    • 2
  • Andrés J. Novaro
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Facultad de Ciencias Exactas Físicas y NaturalesUniversidad Nacional de Córdoba-CONICETCórdobaArgentina
  2. 2.Patagonian and Andean Steppe ProgramWildlife Conservation Society ArgentinaNeuquénArgentina
  3. 3.INIBIOMA-CONICETNeuquénArgentina

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