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Invasion ecology of wild pigs Sus scrofa in Brazil

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Author(s):
Felipe Pedrosa Chagas
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Doctoral Thesis
Press: Rio Claro. 2019-07-18.
Institution: Universidade Estadual Paulista (Unesp). Instituto de Biociências. Rio Claro
Defense date:
Advisor: Mauro Galetti Rodrigues
Abstract

Biological invasions are one of the main threats to biodiversity, which is why it is a field of interest for scientific investigations by ecologists. The Neotropics are home to one of the planet's greatest species richness, and over the last few years it has been experiencing a significant increase in the number of exotic species introduction. One of them is the wild boar Sus scrofa and their crossed-breeds with domestic pigs, that in its free-living wild-form we call wild pigs. My effort throughout this thesis is to investigate some of the ecological consequences of the invasion of this species, as well as present an outlook of the population control employed in Brazil, always seeking to make a discussion of the results applied to the management of the species. In Chapter 1 I show how the severe introduction of this species that occurred in the last 20 years in Brazil has made it widely distributed throughout the country, especially in the South, Southeast and Midwest regions. In Chapter 2 I evaluated the effectiveness of the ecological role of frugivory and seed dispersal provided by these animals. Chapter 3 shows how agricultural landscapes are subsidizing the invasion of wild pigs enhancing the species' expansion. In Chapter 4 I seek to reveal the role of the invader in displacing the trophic niche of native peccaries and Chapter 5 presents a brief account of the interaction between wild pigs and vampire bats. In the end, Chapter 6 outlines a profile of the methods and motivations of the species controllers in Brazil today. In summary, this thesis shows that 1) wild pig plays the ecological role of frugivores and seed dispersers of native and exotic plants, 2) comparable role – but not equivalent – to that played by tapirs, 3) because they are also omnivorous, they are both subsidized and a major problem for agricultural activities, 4) being able to compete for resources with similar niche species such as collared peccary (Pecari tajacu) and white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari) and 5) are serving as prey for vampire bats; in addition, 6) the population control of the species today in Brazil is made mostly by hunters motivated by property defense and meat consumption. Population control of the species is necessary to stop population expansion and mitigate the ecological and economic negative impacts. (AU)