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Demography, sociospatial behaviour and genetics of feral pigs (Sus scrofa) in a semi-arid environment

Authors

  • Timothy M. Gabor,

    1. Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Science, Texas A & M University, College Station, TX 77843, U.S.A.
    2. Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A & M University-Kingsville, Kingsville, TX 78363, U.S.A.
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    • Biology Department, Dyersburg State Community College, 1510 Lake Road, Dyersburg, TN 38024, U.S.A.

  • Eric C. Hellgren,

    1. Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A & M University-Kingsville, Kingsville, TX 78363, U.S.A.
    2. Department of Zoology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, U.S.A.
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  • Ronald A. Van Den Bussche,

    1. Department of Zoology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, U.S.A.
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  • Nova J. Silvy

    1. Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Science, Texas A & M University, College Station, TX 77843, U.S.A.
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Abstract

We examined demographics, dispersal, sex-related behaviour, group structure, and genetic similarities of female feral pigs Sus scrofa on the Chaparral Wildlife Management Area in southern Texas from June 1993 to December 1995. Cumulative and seasonal ranges and core areas were calculated for 18 female pigs representing three distinct sounders. Simultaneous pairs of radio locations were used to assess behavioural associations among pigs, and DNA fingerprinting was used to determine genetic similarity. Behavioural and spatial associations largely corresponded to genetic relationships. Similarity of behavioural dendrograms to genetic dendrograms indicated that genetic relationships of feral pigs played a role in observed population structure. A single discrepancy between genetic and behavioural dendrograms suggested two animals dispersed to an adjacent sounder. Also, one sounder appeared to have been created by fission from a larger, adjacent sounder. Factors that are important keys in understanding the association between genetics and behaviour of feral pigs include dispersal, climate, habitat quality, population densities, and sex-related behaviour.

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