Breeding success of the endemic mara Dolichotis patagonum in relation to habitat selection: conservation implications.
JOURNAL OF ARID ENVIRONMENTS
Año: 2007 vol. 68 p. 9 - 19
Although maras (Dolichotis patagonum) are among the most representative mammals of South America, knowledge on the ecological processes affecting their conservation is scarce. In particular, the study of habitat requirements and its relationship with breeding success is necessary to identify possible threats and develop conservation action for this endemic mammal. I investigated hábitat selection patterns by maras and their relationship with breeding success in Penı´nsula Valde´ s, Argentine Patagonia. Maras bred from mid-August to late December, and they tended to build the breeding warrens in open, grass-dominated habitats more than expected while avoided closed habitats dominated by taller shrubs. Mean number of breeding adults per warren was 4.26, while mean number of pups born per warren was 4.46. Overall, 30 (45%) of 67 pups survived until the 6th week of life, but pups born in warrens located in open habitats survived significantly better than pups born in warrens located in closed habitats (50% vs. 30% of the pups born). As grass-dominated áreas uphold the highest densities of domestic sheep and habitat modification due to overgrazing is a widespread process across arid Patagonia, effects on the availability of suitable breeding sites for maras are likely to occur and require further investigation.