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Anales del Instituto de la Patagonia

versión On-line ISSN 0718-686X


KUSCH, Alejandro  y  MARCOS HENRIQUEZ, J. Habitat preferences of Lesser Rhea (Rhea Pennata D'orbigni, 1834) in disturbed shrubland of austral Chile. Anales Instituto Patagonia (Chile) [online]. 2011, vol.39, n.1, pp.43-50. ISSN 0718-686X.

In the steppes of southern Chile, a commonly used management strategy for vegetation includes clear-cutting strips of shrubs in order to maximize the growth of forage plant species for sheep ranching. The Lesser Rhea (Rhea pennata), an endemic, fightless bird species categorized as “vulnerable” is an inhabitant in these ecosystems. The aim of the study was to determine the relationship between vegetation variables and habitat preferences of Lesser rheas in sites with and without this shrubland management. Lesser Rheas were found to prefer sites with medium level disturbance of shrubs and avoided control site (without management). Habitat preferences of a determinated management unit could be explained because the resulting habitat type provides shelter and food supplies simultaneously. These results suggest that maintaining medium cover of shrubs is an action that favorably affects rhea populations, but it is necessary to evaluate the spatial design of clear cutting as well.

Palabras clave : Lesser Rhea; Rhea pennata; shrubland steppe; habitat degradation; southern Chile.

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