Raptors are important predators of various species of small mammals, which renders them of economic importance since their prey may be either disease vectors or reservoirs which represent health problems, or economically important through the damage they cause to crops and stocks. The long-tailed rice rat Oligoryzomys longicaudatus is a reservoir and vector of Hantavirus, a disease of increasing importance in various Latin American countries. The nocturnal Barn Owl (Tyto alba) and the diurnal White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus) appear to be the most significant predators of this species. Here, we characterize the diet of these two raptors and analyze their trophic specialization and dietary selectivity using published information, pellet analysis, and field abundances of small mammals. Both raptor species positively selected O. longicaudatus in their diets to suggest that they could be potential controllers of the Hantavirus reservoir in Chile, both in natural and agricultural ecosystems. Predation on O. longicaudatus by these two raptors is interesting because they have complementary activity periods, a condition which enables them to share the same prey without having strong interference.
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Vol. 128 • No. 2