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Location of breeding warrens as indicators of habitat use by maras (Dolichotis patagonum) in Península Valdés, Argentina
Abstract and Figures
We characterized the habitat use by maras (Dolichotis patagonum) on a microhabitat scale in the area surrounding the warren, assessing the conditioning effect of the warren over space use and exploitation of other resources. We evaluated the relationships between the probability and intensity of use, habitat configuration and distance to the warren, counting feces along transects departing from each warren. Our results showed that the location of breeding warrens was positively associated with the habitat use by maras on a microhabitat scale. The core area of the annual activity of maras was concentrated around the warren and there was no evidence of alternative areas of activity. According to the fitted models, maras used microhabitats with a high proportion of bare soil and close to infrastructure elements. The spatial autocorrelation components indicated that intensively used patches are small and disperse. The patterns of habitat use observed in this study suggest that maras use multipurpose areas including the breeding site and resources needed throughout the year. These patterns suggest that warrens are good all year-round indicators of mara habitat use and spatial ecology.
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