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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X

Abstract

GUERRERO, CARLA; ESPINOZA, LUIS; NIEMEYER, HERMANN M  and  SIMONETTI, JAVIER A. Using fecal profiles of bile acids to assess habitat use by threatened carnivores in the Maulino forest of central Chile. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2006, vol.79, n.1, pp.89-95. ISSN 0716-078X.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0716-078X2006000100008.

The distribution and habitat use by carnivores can be assessed by studying their tracks or feces. If these methods are to be used confidently, they should not only unequivocally discriminate among species, but should also render the same patterns of spatial distributions. We assessed the fulfillment of these requirements with five carnivores inhabiting the Maulino forest of central Chile: Galictis cuja, Oncifelis guigna, Pseudalopex culpaeus, Pseudalopex griseus, and Puma concolor. Fecal bile acid thin layer chromatographic profiles were assessed, and shown to be species-specific, invariant within samples of a given individual and among individuals of a given species, but consistently different across species. The spatial distribution of feces in mixed stands of native forests and exotic pine plantations in the coastal Maule region of central Chile was compared with the expected distribution according to habitat offer, and also with the expected distribution based on earlier track records. The results revealed that Pseudalopex culpaeus makes extensive use of pine plantations; Oncifelis guigna prefers native forests, and Pseudalopex griseus thrives in pine plantations, native forests, and patches of native forest, in proportion to habitat availability. Results from scat distribution were similar to those obtained by tracks records. Feces and tracks were thus useful indicators of habitat use by carnivores, and could be used complementarily to study species with conservation problems

Keywords : fecal bile acids; Galictis; habitat use; Oncifelis; Pseudalopex; Puma; thin layer chromatography.

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