Interactions of exotic and native carnivores in an ecotone, the coast of the Beagle Channel, Argentina

Peer Reviewed

Gomez JJ, Gozzi AC, Macdonald DW, Gallo E, Centrón D, & Cassini MH

Polar Biology 33, Issue 10, pages 1371-1378, 2010, 10.1007/s00300-010-0826-8.

In coasts bordering highly productive seas, there can be a flux of resources to the terrestrial ecosystem, and terrestrial carnivores can use marine prey extensively. Two native, endangered species (otter Lontra provocax and culpeo fox Pseudalopex culpaeus lycoides) and two exotic species (mink Neovison vison and grey fox Pseudalopex griseus) inhabit the Beagle coast. The objectives of this paper are: (1) to describe the diet, habitat use and distribution of otters, mink and foxes on the coast of the Beagle channel and (2) to discuss the role of marine resources in the ecological interactions among these species. Diet was determined from the analysis of 245 faeces, and distribution was established from sign surveys. Marine prey occurred in the scats of 98.3, 70.4, 35.5 and 18.2% of otters, mink, culpeo and grey foxes, respectively. Other terrestrial species also use marine resources in Southern Patagonia. All this evidence suggests that the Fueguian coastal channels provide an illuminating example of allochthonous food subsidies from the sea. In the community of four sympatric predators, two native (and endangered) and two exotic, coexistence appears to be facilitated by a renewing marine food subsidy.

Keywords: Otter, Fox, Patagonia, Diet, Habitat use, Competition, Coastal habitat
Categories: Antarctic, Natural Science