Feeding ecology of Ozotoceros bezoarticus: conservation implicationsin Uruguay

Ecología trófica de Ozotoceros bezoarticus: implicaciones para su conservación en Uruguay

Mariana Cosse Susana González Mariano Gimenez-Dixon About the authors

The pampas deer (Ozotoceros bezoarticus Linnaeus, 1758) was in the recent past one of the most characteristic species in the Uruguayan grasslands. However, today the species is very rare, with small relict populations inhabiting in few ranches. To improve our understanding of pampas deer habitat use in modified ecosystems and propose management guidelines we analyzed the pampas deer feeding ecology at Los Ajos ranch. We performed an annual vegetation survey with the purpose to identify the main components of pampas's deer diet and the spatial overlap with livestock. Vegetation offer was characterized by predominance of monocotyledon plants; in three of the four sample periods. The preference values for the crops were positive for ryegrass in winter (0.24) and spring (0.54), the moments of greatest productivity of this pasture; while the rice crops values were negative all year round. The spatial overlap indexes with sheep show a complete exclusion, whereas with cattle the indexes gave values of 0.95 in spring to 0.14 in summer. The niche amplitude was significantly correlated with the spatial overlap levels with cattle. Pampas deer foraging behaviour is opportunistic, typical of mixed feeders. Conservation efforts should focus on implementation of management guidelines of agriculture and cattle breeding activities.

Diet; habitat use; mixed feeders; niche overlap; pampas deer

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