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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X


PEREIRA-GARBERO, RAMIRO et al. Invasive mammals in Uruguay, history, perspectives and consequences. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2013, vol.86, n.4, pp.403-421. ISSN 0716-078X.

It is an important input for conservation of biodiversity to survey the presence of exotic species and to know their environmental attributes. Through literature reviews and scientific collections, we were able to collect data on diet, body size, history and status of invasion of exotic mammals reported in Uruguay. Niche modeling was conducted for each species based on Maximum Entropy models. Also we estimated the changes generated in the trophic structure of the biota of the mammals in Uruguay caused by the processes of species introductions and losses. Changes in mammal's body size were evaluated in relation to the size distribution data for the main estimated trophic groups. This analysis was performed at the species richness level, and the total biomass per trophic group was estimated considering the known allometric relationships. Our results suggest that the change in biomass can be estimated only by knowing the allometric exponent between density and body size, without knowing the normalization constant. The recently extinct species were of greater body size and more carnivorous diets, often compared to the current ones. In contrast, introduced species are omnivorous (Mus musculus, Rattus norvegicus, Rattus rattus, Sus scrofa) and herbivorous (Lepus europaeus, Bubalus bubalis, Capra hircus, Axis axis, Dama dama). Considering trophic level biomass, these changes in species composition are exacerbated. In addition, we evaluate the climatic suitability of the Uruguayan territory for the establishment of two potentially invasive species, the red-bellied squirrel (Callosciurus erythraeus), which is expanding its range in Argentina, and the American mink (Neovison vison) which has been recently introduced in Uruguay for commercial breeding purposes. Despite the relative landscape geographical and climate homogeneity in Uruguay, our estimates for environmental suitability of the potential establishment of exotic species indicate significant changes over the territory and between species. Our study highlights the strength of ecological theory to advance in the basic status of the species, and their impact, even when information on these and the invasion sites are limited.

Keywords : body size; food webs; invasion; mammals; species distribution models; Uruguay.

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