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Feeding behavior and crop damage caused by capybaras (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) in an agricultural landscape

Comportamento alimentar e danos causados por capivaras (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) em áreas agrícolas

This study aimed to assess the yield loss caused by capybaras in rural areas of Dourados-MS, their feeding periods, crop preferences and the landscape characteristics of farms that may affect the occurrence of capybara's herds. Semi-structured interviews in 24 different farms were done during a period between April 2010 and August 2011. Field observations were held at different times of the day, and also during the night in order to record peaks of the feeding behavior in six farms. Direct counting of capybaras along with the group of animals reported as seen by the farmers during the interviews was used to estimate the size of herds. Data was analyzed using the Principal Components Analyses and the Analytic Hierarchy Process. The average number of capybaras found in a regular herd was 18.8 ± 7.90 animals. The average number of capybara herd by farms was of 1.38 ± 0.92 while the average number of capybaras by farms was 32.33 ± 27.87. Capybaras selected rice (Oryza sativa) when it was available (14.5% of devastation in 1.18% of total planted area); however, the most eaten crop was corn (Zea mays) with 38.55% of loss rate in 16.17% of the total planted area. Capybaras ate mostly in the evening and during the night. The availability of water resources in the rural area predisposed the occurrence of capybara's herds.

anthropic areas; farming crops; crop damage; selectivity

Instituto Internacional de Ecologia R. Bento Carlos, 750, 13560-660 São Carlos SP - Brasil, Tel. e Fax: (55 16) 3362-5400 - São Carlos - SP - Brazil