Sunday, 31 January 2016

Altered activity patterns and reduced abundance of native mammals in sites with feral dogs in the high Andes

Volume 193, January 2016, Pages 9–16


Feral dogs are widespread globally, but their impacts on wildlife are poorly known.
We examined the effects of feral dogs on native large mammals in the high Andes.
Areas with feral dogs had lower abundance of mammals than areas without dogs.
Three mammal species altered their activity patterns where dogs were present.
Based on our results, governmental programs have been established to control dogs.


Negative impacts of some introduced carnivores like feral cats are well documented, widespread, and significant. Comparatively, the effects of feral dogs (individuals that are not associated with people or human settlements) on native wildlife are poorly known, even though feral dogs occur worldwide. We assessed the density of feral dogs and compared relative abundance, activity patterns and habitat use of 10 species of mammals in areas with and without feral dogs in Cayambe-Coca National Park in the northern Ecuadorian Andes using line transect surveys, camera traps, and track and sign surveys. In areas where feral dogs were present, four native mammals were absent: mountain coati (Nasuella olivacea), mountain paca (Cuniculus taczanowskii), long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata), and northern pudu (Pudu mephistophiles). Relative abundances of six species were lower compared to areas without feral dogs: puma (Puma concolor), Andean fox (Lycalopex culpaeus), Andean bear (Tremarctos ornatus), striped hog-nosed skunk (Conepatus semistriatus), mountain tapir (Tapirus pinchaque), and little red brocket deer (Mazama rufina). Three species significantly altered activity patterns where feral dogs were present (Andean bear, mountain tapir, and little red brocket deer). In contrast, none of the native mammal species exhibited shifts in habitat use in areas with feral dogs. Dogs used all habitat types according to availability. Our results point to feral dogs as a significant problem for the native mammal community of this Andean region, and highlight the need to consider feral dogs as a potential threat to wildlife in other regions where anthropogenic effects appear to be low but feral dogs are present, particularly natural areas that contain endangered and endemic species.


  • Invasive species,;
  • Large mammal,;
  • Relative abundance,;
  • Activity pattern,;
  • Habitat use,;
  • Tropical Andes