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1 March 2010 Intake of Mast By Wildlife in Texas and the Potential for Competition with Wild Boars
Jennifer J. Elston, David G. Hewitt
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In Texas, introduced wild boars (Sus scrofa) consume mast crops that are high-quality foods sought by native wildlife. Because mast often is abundant but ephemeral, competition among species is expected. Relative rates of intake among individuals can determine how much mast can be obtained and digested. Our objective was to determine intake of mast by wild boars, white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), collared peccaries (Pecari tajacu), wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo), and raccoons (Procyon lotor). Trials were conducted with pods from honey mesquites (Prosopis glandulosa), acorns from live oaks (Quercus virginiana), and acorns from Shumard oaks (Quercus shumardii). Rate of intake of dry matter (g/min), rate of bites (bites/min), and size of bites (g/bite) were determined for each species. Despite their larger size, wild boars did not have consistently higher rates of intake than species of native wildlife. However, rates of intake for wild boars were among the highest for pods of honey mesquites and acorns of live oaks. Wild boars had low rates of intake for acorns of Shumard oaks, primarily because wild boars removed the shell, which increased handling time and reduced size of bite. Collared peccaries and raccoons also exhibited shelling behavior when consuming acorns, which reduced their intakes as well. White-tailed deer had relatively high rates of intake of mast compared to other species. Wild turkeys maintained the highest rates of bites for acorns of live oaks, which resulted in high rates of intake relative to body mass. The value of mast appears to be related to its size and shape, which may enable some species to attain higher rates of intake of dry matter than possible on browse and other foods. Moderate to high rates of intake of mast by wild boars, coupled with their ability to displace other species from feeding sites and obtain a higher-quality diet by discarding acorn shells should enable them to compete effectively with native species for mast.

Jennifer J. Elston and David G. Hewitt "Intake of Mast By Wildlife in Texas and the Potential for Competition with Wild Boars," The Southwestern Naturalist 55(1), 57-66, (1 March 2010).
Received: 10 April 2008; Accepted: 1 May 2009; Published: 1 March 2010

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