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PeerJ. 2018 Jan 12;6:e4200. doi: 10.7717/peerj.4200. eCollection 2018.

Achilles heel of a powerful invader: restrictions on distribution and disappearance of feral pigs from a protected area in Northern Pantanal, Western Brazil.

Author information

1
Fiocruz Mata Atlântica, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz), Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil.
2
Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.
3
Departamento de Biologia & CESAM (Centro de Estudos do Ambiente e do Mar), Universidade de Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal.
4
Departamento de Vertebrados, Museu Nacional, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil.

Abstract

This paper focuses on a rare case of natural disappearance of feral pigs (Sus scrofa) in an extensive area without using traditional methods of eradication programs. The study was conducted both in the Private Reserve of Natural Heritage (PRNH) Sesc Pantanal and in an adjacent traditional private cattle ranch. In 1998, feral pigs were abundant and widely distributed in the PRNH. However, the feral pigs gradually disappeared from the area and currently, the absence of pigs in the PRNH contrasts with the adjacent cattle ranch where the species is abundant. To understand the current distribution of the species in the region we partitioned the effects of variation of feral pigs' presence considering the habitat structure (local), landscape composition and the occurrence of potential predators. Additionally, we modeled the distributions of the species in Northern Pantanal, projecting into the past using the classes of vegetation cover before the PRNH implementation (year 1988). Our results show areas with more suitability for feral pigs in regions where the landscape is dominated by pastures and permeated by patches of Seasonal Dry Forest. The species tends to avoid predominantly forested areas. Additionally, we recorded that the environmental suitability decreases exponentially as the distance from water bodies increases. The disappearance of feral pigs in the PRNH area seems to be associated with changes in the landscape and vegetation structure after the removal of the cattle. In the Brazilian Pantanal, the feral pigs' occurrence seems strongly conditioned to environmental changes associated to livestock activity.

KEYWORDS:

Conservation planning; Feral pigs; Pantanal; Protected areas; Species distribution models; Sus scrofa

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare there are no competing interests.

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