Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Spatiotemporal relationship between guanaco (Lama guanicoe) and hare (Lepus europaeus) and their role as prey for the endangered mountain lion (Puma concolor) in the Andean Mountains of Central Chile (34º 27´ S, 70º 27´W). (#278)

Cristian Bonacic 1 , Ana Munoz 1
  1. Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Santiago, Chile

The demise of the guanaco in the Andes of central Chile after hunting and livestock competition peaked 50-70 years ago in the Mediterranean ecosystems of Chile. Hares became the predominant wild herbivores besides domestic livestock in this mountain range. The Río Cipreses Natural Reserve was established to protect a small population of guanacos in 1984. Cattle were removed and guanacos recovered from the brink of extinction. We studied how hares and guanacos overlapped in space and time (Co-occur and overlap packages in R) and determined their ecological role for puma subsistence. A camera trap study (n=5,008 trap-nights) between 2013-2015 and puma scat collection since 2012 (n=107 scats) showed that hare-puma and hare-guanaco co-occurred spatially and time overlap was only significant between puma-hare. Hares' percentage of occurrence in the diet was 71% and hares accounted for 85% of the relative biomass consumed by pumas. Our results indicate that the hare continues to be the most important prey item in the diet of the puma, despite guanacos 1,000% increased population to about 250 animals in the study area (8,372 ha). We discuss the ecological role of hares as exotic prey for the survival of pumas.