Modelling habitat preferences of feral pigs for rooting in lowland rainforest

Elledge, Amanda E., Mcalpine, Clive A., Murray, Peter J., and Gordon, Iain J. (2013) Modelling habitat preferences of feral pigs for rooting in lowland rainforest. Biological Invasions, 15 (7). pp. 1523-1535.

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Feral pigs (Sus scrofa) occupy many different habitats worldwide. Their rooting foraging behaviour poses a serious threat to biodiversity as the resulting soil disturbance alters ecosystem structure and function. Understanding what characteristics are important in selecting rooting locations can be used to predict the impact of pigs on ecosystems. We investigated patch selection for rooting by feral pigs at two spatial scales: (1) habitat variables at a site level, and (2) dependency between observations in a spatial context. Seasonal influences on the modelled environmental variables were also examined. We applied a generalised linear modelling approach and model-averaging to explain the relative importance of variables, as measured by the standardised parameter estimates and unconditional variance. Soil texture, rock cover, soil compaction and sand texture were important explanatory variables in the presence of pig rooting. Soil compaction and distance to roads had a negative influence. The highest ranking model included seven explanatory variables with a 41 % chance that this is the Kullback–Leibler best model. Six of the 128 candidate models were in the 95 % confidence set indicating low model uncertainty. Although no differences in pig rootings were detected between seasons, most rooting (65.7 %) occurred during the dry season with soil and sand texture having the strongest effect. This study highlights how pig control programmes can focus limited resources on either the strategic positioning of control devices (e.g., traps and baits) to either reduce the number of pigs or help prioritise habitats of high conservation value for protection (e.g., exclusion fencing).

Item ID: 42434
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1573-1464
Keywords: foraging, generalised linear modelling, habitat preferences, model averaging, rooting, Sus scrofa
Funders: Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (IA-CRC), Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2016 15:12
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales @ 100%
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