Spatial ecology and diets of feral pigs (Sus scrofa) on the rolling plains of Texas.
Chandler, Brian A.
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Few studies have detailed the movements, diets, and habitat use of feral pigs in the United States, and some of these studies had low sample sizes and technical problems. My objectives were to analyze feral pig seasonal diets on the west central Rolling Plains of Texas and to investigate the micro habitat usage and spatial ecology of feral pigs using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology and vegetation sampling. Personnel from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) collected stomachs from feral pigs and identified food eaten in the Rolling Plains of Texas during 1996, 1997, and 1998. I further analyzed the data and found corn to be an important food during summer and sorghum was heavily utilized during summer, fall, and winter. Tubers and roots of wild plants were the most commonly eaten foods by feral pigs in spring and winter. In spring 2011, we trapped and fitted 19 feral pigs with collars that contained both GPS (Global Positioning Systems) and VHF (Very High Frequency) transmitters. Within 6 months, all of the transmitters had stopped transmitting; this included VHF and GPS transmitters. We received redesigned transmitter collars in late winter of 2011-2012. We then trapped and collared 10 more feral pigs and fitted them with the new collars. Trends could be observed for signs observed in core areas. Due to extremely low sample sizes (n=3 declining to n=1) and pooling of data for analysis, data can only be applied to an individual which had a chance of being sampled. We located 2 farrowing areas. These are some of the first feral pig farrowing sites to be described in West Texas. I conducted a spatial analysis of core area fidelity and home range size during two-week sampling periods. The mean home range size during these periods was 646 hectares. The mean distance from high-use areas and geographic centers of point distribution was 1068m. Feral pigs showed fidelity to some habitat features such as wallows. Each chapter of this thesis is written as a standalone publication following the style of the Journal of Wildlife Management. As such, there is some duplication in the introduction, discussion, and study area.