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A note on the behavior of feral cattle in the Chihuahuan Desert of Mexico

By L. Hernandez, H. Barral, G. Halffter, S. S. Colon

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Habitat use and behaviour of three feral cows were compared to three domestic cows in the Mapimi Biosphere Reserve, Chihuahuan Desert, where approximately 1000 feral cows were found on 151 000 ha. Feral cattle were found to represent an ecotype adapted to desert conditions. In comparison with domestic cattle, feral animals lived in small group sizes (1-20 animals), had larger home range sizes (mean = 47 vs. 14 kmsuperscript 2), travelled longer distances hourly (mean = 1 vs. 0.3 km/h) and daily (mean = 20 vs. 7 km/day) and used more kinds of habitats than domestic cattle. Seasonally feral cattle used different kinds of habitats in comparison to domestic cattle which intensively used ephemeral streams throughout the year. Anti-predator strategies in response to hunting by local ranchers are thought to explain the pattern. It is suggested that this pattern of habitat use could minimize the impact of cattle on desert environments.

Date 1999
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 63
Issue 4
Pages 259-267
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/S0168-1591(99)00015-5
Language English
Author Address Instituto de Ecologia, A.C. Centro Regional Durango, Apdo. Postal 632, 34100 Durango, Dgo., Mexico.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  3. Biological resources
  4. Cattle
  5. Conservation
  6. Developed countries
  7. Ecology
  8. Feral animals
  9. Group size
  10. Habitats
  11. Latin America
  12. Mammals
  13. Mexico
  14. nature reserves
  15. North America
  16. OECD countries
  17. peer-reviewed
  18. Ruminants
  19. Threshold Countries
  20. United States of America
  1. peer-reviewed