Feral pigs in a temperate rainforest ecosystem: disturbance and ecological impacts

Cheryl Krull, David CHOQUENOT, Bruce Burns, Margaret Stanley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    18 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Feral pigs (Sus scrofa) are a widespread invasive species, and cause biotic disturbance. This study evaluated the impacts associated with ground disturbance by feral pigs in the North Island of New Zealand. Exclosure cages were erected over feral pigdisturbed ground and visually undisturbed ground (the latter as controls). Buried resin bags and litter bags were located in these plots to examine differences in soil nutrients and decomposition rates and seedling/ sapling recruitment (abundance, species composition and richness) was monitored over 21 months. No difference was found in the litter decomposition between the disturbed and visually undisturbed plots. Significantly more nitrate (NO3-N/NO2-N) was found in the disturbed exclosures. Seedling density was not significantly affected by feral pig disturbance. However, seedling/sapling species richness was lower in disturbed areas. Species composition changes occurred at disturbed sites with species increasing and decreasing in density after feral pig disturbance. However, no pattern was observed between species that were negatively affected by feral pig disturbance. This study shows that feral pig disturbance affects vegetation through direct removal, but also indirectly through increased nitrate, potentially leading to seedling and sapling species composition changes. Feral pigs are known to return to previously disturbed areas to re-disturb. These areas may remain in a redisturbed state if not protected, and through continued disturbance and increased nitrate, ecosystem changes may occur, especially in characteristically nutrient poor environments.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2193-2204
    Number of pages12
    JournalBiological Invasions
    Volume15
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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    ecological impact
    rainforest
    pig
    rain forests
    disturbance
    swine
    ecosystems
    ecosystem
    species diversity
    sapling
    saplings
    seedling
    seedlings
    nitrates
    nitrate
    bags
    litter
    decomposition
    degradation
    Sus scrofa

    Cite this

    Krull, Cheryl ; CHOQUENOT, David ; Burns, Bruce ; Stanley, Margaret. / Feral pigs in a temperate rainforest ecosystem: disturbance and ecological impacts. In: Biological Invasions. 2013 ; Vol. 15. pp. 2193-2204.
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    Feral pigs in a temperate rainforest ecosystem: disturbance and ecological impacts. / Krull, Cheryl; CHOQUENOT, David; Burns, Bruce; Stanley, Margaret.

    In: Biological Invasions, Vol. 15, 2013, p. 2193-2204.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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    T1 - Feral pigs in a temperate rainforest ecosystem: disturbance and ecological impacts

    AU - Krull, Cheryl

    AU - CHOQUENOT, David

    AU - Burns, Bruce

    AU - Stanley, Margaret

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    N2 - Feral pigs (Sus scrofa) are a widespread invasive species, and cause biotic disturbance. This study evaluated the impacts associated with ground disturbance by feral pigs in the North Island of New Zealand. Exclosure cages were erected over feral pigdisturbed ground and visually undisturbed ground (the latter as controls). Buried resin bags and litter bags were located in these plots to examine differences in soil nutrients and decomposition rates and seedling/ sapling recruitment (abundance, species composition and richness) was monitored over 21 months. No difference was found in the litter decomposition between the disturbed and visually undisturbed plots. Significantly more nitrate (NO3-N/NO2-N) was found in the disturbed exclosures. Seedling density was not significantly affected by feral pig disturbance. However, seedling/sapling species richness was lower in disturbed areas. Species composition changes occurred at disturbed sites with species increasing and decreasing in density after feral pig disturbance. However, no pattern was observed between species that were negatively affected by feral pig disturbance. This study shows that feral pig disturbance affects vegetation through direct removal, but also indirectly through increased nitrate, potentially leading to seedling and sapling species composition changes. Feral pigs are known to return to previously disturbed areas to re-disturb. These areas may remain in a redisturbed state if not protected, and through continued disturbance and increased nitrate, ecosystem changes may occur, especially in characteristically nutrient poor environments.

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