NOVARO andres Jose
Feeding ecology of the Andean hog-nosed skunk (Conepatus chinga) in areas under different land use in north-western Patagonia
DONADIO, E.; S. DI MARTINO; M. AUBONE; NOVARO, A. J.
JOURNAL OF ARID ENVIRONMENTS
ACADEMIC PRESS LTD-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD
Año: 2004 vol. 56 p. 709 - 718
We studied the feeding ecology of the Andean hog-nosed skunk (Conepatus chinga) in three areas with different land use in Patagonia. Two areas were heavily grazed by sheep or horses and wild exotic herbivores and the third area was lightly grazed by cattle. In each area, we assessed skunk diet, prey abundance and carrion availability. Skunks were generalist feeders, with invertebrates composing the bulk of their diet, but also consumed small vertebrates and carrion. Differences in diet composition were found among areas, mainly because skunks consumed more beetle larvae in the sheep area and more cricetines and spiders in the exoticherbivore area. All prey but rodents were significantly more abundant in spring and summer than in fall and winter, but skunk diets were similar among seasons. In the sheep area, where the soil was most disturbed, we found reduced abundances of invertebrate prey and rodents. High consumption of beetles during autumn and winter when these were least abundant and in the sheep area indicates that skunks had a preference for beetles and their larvae. We conclude that Andean hog-nosed skunks in Patagonia might be negatively affected by reductions of their main prey due to soil and plant alterations by livestock.