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Ecología austral

On-line version ISSN 1667-782X


BONINO, Never. Trophic interaction between European wild rabbit and domestic livestock in the northwest of the Patagonia Argentina. Ecol. austral [online]. 2006, vol.16, n.2, pp.135-142. ISSN 1667-782X.

Dietary overlap between the European wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and the domestic livestock (ovine and bovine) in the Andean region of Neuquén province, Argentina, was determined. At every time of the year (except in winter) fresh samples of faeces of each herbivore were collected, which were analyzed through the microhistological method. The identified vegetal species were grouped in: grasses, graminoids (Juncaceae and Ciperaceae), forbs, shrubs and trees. The three herbivores showed to be mainly grazers; the grasses were the most important vegetal group in the diet of the rabbit and the ovine (45% and 35%, respectively), followed by the group of the graminoids (34% and 22%, respectively), whereas in the diet of bovine these groups also were the most important but in inverted order (50% graminoids and 31% grasses). The most important plant species in the diet of the rabbit was P. pratensis, whereas in the diet of the ovine was F. pallescens and in the one of the bovine they were J. balticus and C. gayana, almost in the same proportion. The greatest dietary overlapping was observed between rabbit and sheep (62%), followed by the rabbitbovine pair (60%) and, finally, by ovine-bovine one (49%). Considering this overlapping values and the daily consumption of each herbivore, animal equivalence was of 12 rabbits by one ovine and 86 rabbits by one bovine. The results indicated the existence of a potential trophic competition between the European rabbit and the domestic cattle.

Keywords : Diet; Microhistological analysis; Oryctolagus cuniculus; Sheep; Bovine.

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