An analysis of Barn Owl (Tytonidae) prey in Central Oaxaca, Mexico

Mario C. Lavariega, Josué García-Meza, Yazmín del Mar Martínez-Ayón, David Camarillo-Chávez, Teresa Hernández-Velasco, Miguel Briones-Salas

Abstract


Barn Owls have a flexible diet for catching their prey based on availability. However, little has been explored about the age class distribution of their main prey. In this work we analyzed the prey diversity, niche width and age class frequency of their main prey from pellets of Barn Owls (Tyto alba) found in a cave surrounded by oak forest in Central Oaxaca, Mexico. From entire and disintegrated pellets, material of 12 prey taxa was recorded, mainly mammals (83.33%). Based on the analysis of 69 pellets, 133 individuals comprising six mammal species were found, in which Heteromys irroratus and Reithrodontomys sp. represented 68.84%. In both species, age classes III (subadults) and IV (adults) were the most frequent. The indexes of trophic niche breadth and prey diversity were moderate, denoting a specialist diet. Based on our results and literature review, we found that genera Heteromys, Reithrodontomys, Peromyscus, Sigmodon, Dipodomys, Perognatus and Chaetodipus are the main prey of Barn Owls in Mexico.

Keywords: diet, Heteromys irroratus, trophic niche.


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