Ecological research leads to call to control feral pigs

Mar 26, 2013

(Phys.org) —University of Auckland research revealing the extent to which feral pigs can disturb forest vegetation and soils has led to a call for the animals to be controlled as a pest in areas of high ecological value.

" are seen as an important hunting resource in New Zealand and I'm by no means suggesting that they should be controlled country-wide," says lead author Dr Cheryl Krull who did the research as part of her PhD.

"But in areas of high , we may need to view them in a different light – as a conservation pest rather than a resource – and look at methods to control or eradicate them locally to help the ecosystem to recover."

Feral pigs are known to physically change their environment by rooting for food and damaging the surrounding vegetation and , but the impact of feral pig ground disturbance had never before been studied in New Zealand.

"We found that feral pig ground disturbance resulted in a reduction in the diversity of seedlings and saplings in the forest, a dramatic reduction in leaf cover on the forest floor, and altered availability of nitrates (important nutrients for plants) in the soil," Cheryl says. Over time, it is likely that this would produce a change in the composition of the forest.

The authors concluded that feral pigs could have a significant impact on the entire forest ecosystem, especially since New Zealand species evolved in the absence of hooved animals capable of causing such damage.

The research was conducted in the Waitakere ranges as part of a study funded by Auckland Council . Dr Krull says the impact may be even greater in other parts of the country, with more delicate ground-level biology, such as alpine ecosystems with slower plant recovery rates.

The work has been published in the latest issue of Biological Invasions.

Explore further: Giant anteaters kill two hunters in Brazil

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Michigan wants hunters to shoot feral pigs

Jan 30, 2008

Feral pigs have become such a problem in Michigan that the state Department of Natural Resources has asked deer hunters in 51 counties to shoot any they see.

Feral pigs exposed to nasty bacteria

Apr 10, 2012

A North Carolina State University study shows that, for the first time since testing began several years ago, feral pigs in North Carolina have tested positive for Brucella suis, an important and harmful bacteria that can be ...

Killing in the name of conservation

Feb 22, 2010

Thanks to the introduction of various non-native species to Australia throughout history, the country is overrun with feral animals. A new application developed by ecologists at the University of Adelaide to be published ...

Hey Porky Pig: You Deserve Some Respect, Expert Says

Feb 08, 2007

It’s the Chinese Year of the Pig, and if any animal ever needed a good PR campaign, it might be the pig. Many animal experts think pigs get a bad rap. They are often viewed as dirty creatures that are not ...

Recommended for you

Giant anteaters kill two hunters in Brazil

10 hours ago

Giant anteaters in Brazil have killed two hunters in separate incidents, raising concerns about the animals' loss of habitat and the growing risk of dangerous encounters with people, researchers said.

Study indicates large raptors in Africa used for bushmeat

Jul 24, 2014

Bushmeat, the use of native animal species for food or commercial food sale, has been heavily documented to be a significant factor in the decline of many species of primates and other mammals. However, a new study indicates ...

Noise pollution impacts fish species differently

Jul 24, 2014

Acoustic disturbance has different effects on different species of fish, according to a new study from the Universities of Bristol and Exeter which tested fish anti-predator behaviour.

User comments : 0