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Idesia (Arica)

versión On-line ISSN 0718-3429


CAREVIC, Felipe S. Role of the burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) as a biological controller using the analysis of its food habits in the Iquique province, northern Chile. Idesia [online]. 2011, vol.29, n.1, pp.15-21. ISSN 0718-3429.

In the present study the diet of burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) was analyzed in the Pampa del Tamarugal National Reserve and Los Verdes, in the Province of Iquique. These sites are characterized by rural and fishing activities, respectively. Through the analyses of 128 pellets of the burrowing owl, 422 total prey items were determined at the two sites. An analysis of prey selectivity was performed by comparing the abundance of prey in the field and the diet of the burrowing owl. The diet of the burrowing owl at both sites included mainly arthropods. Insects were the most important prey, followed by arachnids and small mammals. The comparison between the abundance of the arthropods in the field versus the pellets of the burrowing owl indicated statistical differences, showing a degree of prey selectivity. Athene cunicularia predated on a wide range of prey, including invertebrates, reptiles, birds and small mammals. Within the invertebrates, the burrowing owl predated mainly insects. These results are congruent with studies carried out at other latitudes and confirm the burrowing owl as a biological controller of deleterious species for the Tamarugo forest and zones with anthropic activities.

Palabras clave : Athene cunicularia; Burrowing owl; Diet; Iquique; Northern Chile.

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