Cornfield effects on breeding and abundance of Oligoryzomys nigripes (Rodentia: Sigmodontinae)

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Small rodents rely on resource gathering during the breeding season to support their reproductive output and offspring survival. Since croplands may provide complementary food
sources, we evaluated the influence of the presence of cornfield on the forest edge in Oligoryzomys nigripes (Olfers 1818) abundance and breeding. We found that abundance, proportion of reproductive females and males, as well as the number of juveniles were higher in the cornfield-forest edges, with no seasonality, a pattern divergent from the seasonal reproduction described for the species. Therefore, our results supported the hypothesis of cornfields benefiting O. nigripes abundance and breeding success.


Pequenos roedores dependem da aquisição de recursos para sustentar a reprodução e a sobrevivência da ninhada. Uma vez que plantações podem servir como fonte complementar de
alimento, nós avaliamos a influência da presença de plantações de milho na borda da floresta sobre a abundância e a reprodução de Oligoryzomys nigripes. Constatamos que a abundância, a proporção de indivíduos reprodutivos, assim como o número de juvenis foram maiores nas bordas dos campos de milharal, sem sazonalidade, um padrão divergente da reprodução sazonal descrita para a espécie. Nossos resultados suportam a hipótese de que as plantações de milho beneficiam a abundância e a atividade reprodutiva de O. nigripes.

Behavioral counter-strategies against infanticide in corn mouse females, Calomys musculinus

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Based on the hypothesis that in C. musculinus both female territorial behavior and promiscuity are counter-strategies against infanticide by females and males respectively, our objective was to test the following predictions: (1) mother aggression deters infanticide by females; (2) previous matings prevent infanticide by males. We conducted 116 behavioral encounters between mothers and intruders to study the nest related behaviors. Mother-pups units (Mu) were grouped in three treatments in relation to the intruder feature: 55 Mu were placed with siring males, 27 Mu and 34 Mu were housed with non-siring males and reproductively active females, respectively. We also calculated offspring survival rate for each treatment. The nest related behaviors varied among the three groups tested. Mothers showed high rates of aggressive behavior towards females. In presence of siring males mothers remained calm inside the nest. When the intruders were non-siring males mothers exhibited high rates of nest defense behavior. The lowest survival rate was registered in presence of the non-siring males, while the highest rates were registered in presence of females or siring males. The absence of aggressiveness and the high rate of nest defense by mothers against siring and non-siring males respectively, would support that promiscuity acts as a counter-strategy against infanticide by males. Mother aggressive behavior against intruder females would show that female territoriality may be an effective way of pup protection.


Contraestrategias comportamentales contra el infanticidio en hembras de C. musculinus. Bajo la hipótesis de que la territorialidad intra-sexual y el apareamiento múltiple por parte de las hembras de C. musculinus actúan como contra-estrategias para evitar el infanticidio cometido por hembras y machos respectivamente, nuestro objetivo fue probar las siguientes predicciones: 1) la agresión de la madre impide el infanticidio por hembras, 2) los apareamientos previos previenen el infanticidio por parte de machos. Estudiamos comportamientos relacionados al nido en 116 unidades madre-cría (Mc) agrupadas en tres tratamientos en relación a las características del intruso: 55 Mc alojadas con los padres de las crías; 27 Mc y 34 Mc alojadas con machos sin experiencia sexual con la madre y con hembras reproductivas, respectivamente. En cada tratamiento se calcularon las tasas de sobrevida. Las madres fueron agresivas hacia las hembras. En presencia de los padres las madres permanecieron tranquilas en sus nidos. La menor tasa de sobrevida se registró en presencia del macho no padre; las mayores en presencia del padre y hembras reproductivas. La ausencia de agresividad y las altas tasas de defensa del nido exhibidas por las madres hacia los padres y los machos extraños respectivamente, apoyan la hipótesis que propone la promiscuidad como contraestrategia al infanticidio por machos. La respuesta altamente agresiva de las madres hacia las hembras intrusas sería una estrategia efectiva para la protección de sus crías.

Incidencia de vizcachas (Lagostomus maximus) en un cultivo de soja

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Entre enero y mayo de 1994 se evaluó el daño por vizcachas (Lagostomus maximus) en un cultivo de soja de 14 ha, en el N de la provincia de Córdoba (Argentina). Se contaron las plantas remanentes en pie/m2 y se registró el peso total de semillas por vaina en tres sectores con signos de actividad de vizcachas y niveles diferentes de daño, ubicados a distancia creciente de las madrigueras. También se tomaron estos datos en otro sector más alejado (control), sin actividad de vizcachas ni daño aparente. El menor número de plantas remanentes/m² se encontró en el sector próximo a las vizcacheras. El peso total de semillas/vaina fue menor en los dos sectores cercanos a las madrigueras. El porcentaje de hojas de soja en la dieta, verificado mediante el análisis microhistológico de heces frescas, varió entre meses y entre cuevas situadas a diferentes distancias del cultivo. El mayor consumo se registró entre enero y marzo en aquellos individuos que habitaban madrigueras cercanas al cultivo (< 50 m). El daño fue restringido en superficie y relacionado con la cercanía del cultivo a las vizcacheras. Por lo tanto, las pérdidas dependerán de la superficie cultivada y del tamaño y ubicación de la población de vizcachas. En este caso, estas representaron un 3% del ingreso total del productor. Comparando los beneficios de erradicar este roedor y los de su uso sustentable, se concluye que este último es una alternativa para resolver conflictos en el manejo de las poblaciones de vizcacha.


Damage to a soybean crop by viscacha (Lagostomus maximus). From January to May 1994, we evaluated the damage produced by viscachas (Lagostomus maximus) to a 14-ha soybean crop in the N of Córdoba Province (Argentina). Measurements were carried out in three sectors with signs of activity of viscachas and different levels of damage, located at increasing distances from the burrows. Also, measurements were taken in an area (control) with no viscacha activity or apparent damage. We counted remanent plants/m² and weighed all the seeds per fruit. The lowest number of plants was found in the sector nearest the burrows. The lowest seed weight per fruit was recorded in the two sectors that were closest to the burrows. The percentage of leaf of soybean in the diet, verified by microhistological analysis of fresh feces, varied among months and among burrows located at different distances from the crop. The highest values were observed between January and March in those individuals that inhabit burrows near the crop (< 50 m). The damage was restricted in area and related to the proximity of the crop to the viscacha colonies. Therefore, the losses will be related to the size of the cultivated plot and to the size and location of the viscacha population. In this case, losses represented 3% of the farmer’s total income. Comparing the benefits of eradicating this rodent and those of its sustainable use, we conclude that the latter is an interesting alternative for solving conflicts in the management of the populations of viscachas.