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Volume 44 - Number 2 - 2009

Comparative study of the feeding ecology of the top predator Lontra felina (Molina, 1782) (Carnivore: Mustelidae) in Chile

Olivia Córdova1, Jaime R. Rau2,3, Cristián G. Suazo4 y Aldo Arriagada3,5


1Programa de Magíster en Ciencias del Mar, Facultad de Ciencias del Mar, Universidad Católica del Norte, Casilla 117, Coquimbo, Chile

2Laboratorio de Ecología, Departamento de Ciencias Básicas, Universidad de Los Lagos, Casilla 933, Osorno, Chile

3Programa de Educación e Investigación Biológica & Ambiental (Programa-IBAM), Universidad de Los Lagos, Casilla 933, Osorno, Chile

4Instituto de Zoología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Austral de Chile, Casilla 567, Valdivia, Chile

5Programa de Doctorado en Sistemática y Biodiversidad, Departamento de Zoología, Universidad de Concepción, Casilla 160-C, Concepción, Chile




Lontra felina, commonly known as `chungungo', inhabits the southeastern Pacific Ocean, along exposed rocky coastlines. This mustelid species is native to Chile and Peru, and is considered as `endangered' at all its distribution range. This study analyzed and compared: a) the diet of L. felina from six locations between 24º40'S and 48º50'S with the prey categories described in the literature; b) diversity on prey's categories on the same locations. Furthermore, diversity and diet overlaps indices were calculated to summarize the information regarding richness, abundance and relative use of preys by L. felina (trophic niche breath). Crustaceans were the most consumed preys, followed by fish and, to a lower extend, mollusks. A latitudinal pattern was found regarding prey consumption by L. felina. Maximum values were found in the central-south latitudes and minimum values in the septentrional and meridional extreme of the studied gradient. L. felina is an important feline predator of benthic invertebrates and exhibits a feeding pattern characterized by a higher trophic diversity in the south-central area of the Chilean coast


Key words: Diet, trophic ecology, mustelid, sea otter, latitudinal variation



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