Estimation of the diet of chungungo Lontra felina (Molina, 1782) in different locations of the coast of the Biobio region, Chile
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Keywords

faeces
feeding
marine otter
prey items
Talcahuano coast

Abstract

Lontra felina (Molina, 1782), locally in Chile referred to as chungungo, is a marine mustelid. Its distribution extends from Peru to Cape Horn. This species is considered endangered throughout its entire range of distribution. The main threats to its populations are illegal hunting, coastal pollution and exploitation of their food resources. It has been reported that chungungo feeds mainly on crustaceans, fish and shellfish. Previous studies have compared feeding ecology of L. felina in some locations of Chile, there are, however, no reports that determine and compare feeding ecology of L. felina in the Biobío Region. Noninvasive methods such as fecal analyses allow to determine some properties of the diet by analyses of indigested prey or their parts. The present study was conducted in two locations in the Biobío Region: Caleta Chome and San Vicente and a total of 131 fecal remains was collected (65 in Caleta Chome and 66 in San Vicente). Fecal specimens were sieved and the remains of undigested prey were identified and categorized as crustaceans, fish or shellfish and counted. Furthermore, the specimens were identified to the lowest possible taxonomic level using magnifying glass and identification keys available in literature as well as help of qualified lab personnel. In both locations low diversity of prey was found, the diet of chungungo in both locations consisted mainly of crustaceans, followed by fish and shellfish. Furthermore, the results indicate greater variability and diversity of prey consumed in Caleta Chome than in San Vicente.

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