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.
|Publication Title||Applied Animal Behaviour Science|
|Author Address||Instituto de Ecologia, A.C. Centro Regional Durango, Apdo. Postal 632, 34100 Durango, Dgo., Mexico.|
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