Utilization of sugarcane habitat by feral pig (Sus scrofa) in Northern Tropical Queensland: evidence from the stable isotope composition of hair

Wurster, Christopher M., Robertson, Jack, Westcott, David A., Dryden, Bart, Zazzo, Antoine, and Bird, Michael I. (2012) Utilization of sugarcane habitat by feral pig (Sus scrofa) in Northern Tropical Queensland: evidence from the stable isotope composition of hair. PLoS ONE, 7 (9). e43538. pp. 1-8.

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Abstract

Feral pigs (Sus scrofa) are an invasive species that disrupt ecosystem functioning throughout their introduced range. In tropical environments, feral pigs are associated with predation and displacement of endangered species, modification of habitat, and act as a vector for the spread of exotic vegetation and disease. Across many parts of their introduced range, the diet of feral pigs is poorly known. Although the remote location and difficult terrain of far north Queensland makes observing feral pig behavior difficult, feral pigs are perceived to seek refuge in World Heritage tropical rainforests and seasonally 'crop raid' into lowland sugarcane crops. Thus, identifying how feral pigs are using different components of the landscape is important to the design of management strategies. We used the stable isotope composition of captured feral pigs to determine the extent of rainforest and sugarcane habitat usage. Recently grown hair (basal hair) from feral pigs captured in remote rainforest indicated pigs met their dietary needs solely within this habitat. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope values of basal hair from feral pigs captured near sugarcane plantations were more variable, with some individuals estimated to consume over 85% of their diet within a sugarcane habitat, while a few consumed as much as 90% of their diet from adjacent forested environments. We estimated whether feral pigs switch habitats by sequentially sampling δ13C and δ15N values of long tail hair from a subset of seven captured animals, and demonstrate that four of these individuals moved between habitats. Our results indicate that feral pigs utilize both sugarcane and forest habitats, and can switch between these resources.

Item ID: 23820
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Additional Information:

© Wurster et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2012 05:25
FoR Codes: 07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070106 Farm Management, Rural Management and Agribusiness @ 33%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050103 Invasive Species Ecology @ 33%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050204 Environmental Impact Assessment @ 34%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9604 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species > 960403 Control of Animal Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species in Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9604 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species > 960404 Control of Animal Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species in Forest and Woodlands Environments @ 50%
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