Capybaras (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) are the world's largest rodent. Free-living populations are commercially harvested for their meat and leather in Colombia, Venezuela and Argentina; however, there is concern that legal and illegal harvesting is not sustainable. Since capybaras are considered an economic resource, there have been several attempts to explore the effect of different hunting strategies on its population dynamics. Two previous population models have been developed with this goal; however neither included capybara social behavior that may affect population dynamics. We developed an age-structured, density-dependent model of capybara herd dynamics to explore the demographic consequences of different hunting strategies. We then added infanticide and female reproductive suppression to explore the demographic consequences of such behavior. We conducted five different simulations and used ANOVA to estimate the effect of hunting females, hunting males, hunting both males and females, and the independent effects of reproductive suppression and infanticide on population size after 50 years. Our model suggests that suppression has the largest effect on population size, followed by hunting females and males hunting, female hunting, male hunting and infanticide. Thus, to develop more realistic harvesting models, managers should determine the degree of reproductive suppression and the frequency of infanticide by males.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation