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Brazilian Journal of Biology

versión impresa ISSN 1519-6984


RAGUSA-NETTO, J.. Chaco Chachalaca (Ortalis canicollis, Wagler, 1830) feeding ecology in a gallery forest in the South Pantanal (Brazil). Braz. J. Biol. [online]. 2015, vol.75, n.1, pp.49-57. ISSN 1519-6984.

Cracids are generalist frugivores, which often exploit plant food resources such as flowers and leaves, mainly when fruit production declines. The Chaco chachalaca (Ortalis canicollis) is the most abundant cracid in the Pantanal (Brazil), and particularly common in the gallery forests. However, the factors related to their occurrence in this habitat type are unclear. In this study I describe the feeding habits and feeding niche breadth fluctuations of the Chaco chachalaca in relation to food resources abundance and diversity at the Miranda river gallery forest (Southern Pantanal). I also analyzed the relationships between Chaco chachalacas feeding activity and food resources abundance. This parameter (flowers and fruits) exhibited significant seasonal differences of abundance in which flowers were plentiful at the end of the dry, while fruits were abundant during the early wet season. However, food resources diversity to Chaco chachalacas exhibited no seasonal difference. Their feeding activity paralleled the availability of food resources, so that when some items were massively available an enhanced number of Chaco chachalacas foraged in the gallery forest, particularly during the prolonged dry season when they extensively used flowers and Genipa americana fruits. In fact, the Chaco chachalaca feeding niche breadth value presented low values in this period, while high values were common in the rest of the year. The flexible diet of this cracid, potentially favors their year round presence in the gallery forest, mainly during the prolonged dry season when the propensity for famine might be high. Since the Chaco chachalaca is among the largest and most abundant canopy frugivores in the gallery forest, it may contribute to forest regeneration, an underscored role due to the impact of annual floods and meandering dynamics on tree loss.

Palabras clave : Cracidae; canopy phenology; Pantanal; Ortalis canicollis; frugivory.

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