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Differences in habitat use

Along the Amazon river are large expanses of lowland tropical forests that are flooded between 4 and 8 months of every year by the river.  These floodplain forests are often called "várzea forests."  On higher ground (60-200 meters), the tropical forests are never flooded, and so are called "terra firme forests" (Sick 1993).  In Amazonia, the 2 species of peccaries occur in both kinds of forests, but the white-lipped peccary prefers várzea forest while the collared peccary prefers terra firme forest (Bodmer (1990).  In both forests, the white-lipped peccary frequents wetter habitats than the collared peccary (Bodmer 1991a). 

In the Peruvian Amazon, the two species of peccaries respond differently to flooding in the várzea forests (Bodmer 1990).  The white-lipped peccary, which uses várzea forests extensively and ranges over large areas, reacts to flooding by migrating to distant várzea forests and does not change its diet.  In contrast, the collared peccary usually avoids várzea forests, and has a smaller home range than the white-lipped peccary.  Those relatively few collared peccaries inhabiting várzea forests do not migrate during floods, but become stranded on islands of higher ground in the river, where they switch to eating more leaves and less fruits. 

In the Calakmul Biosphere Preserve, Campeche, Mexico, white-lipped peccary tracks were found only in medium-subperennial forests, while collared peccary tracks were found in three forest types in proportion to the availability of these different forests: (1) medium-subperennial, (2) low-subperennial-seasonally-flooded and (3) low-semideciduous (Reyna-Hurtado and Tanner 2005).  Consequently, the white-lipped peccary was considered a habitat specialist, while the collared peccary was considered a habitat generalist.

In areas outside the Calakmul preserve, however, medium-subperennial forests were used extensively by humans for hunting and harvesting of chicle, lumber, palms nuts and honey.  In these areas, about half of white-lipped peccary tracks were found in medium-subperennial forests and half in low-subperennial-seasonally-flooded forests (Reyna-Hurtado and Tanner 2005).  In contrast, the frequency of collared peccary tracks in medium-subperennial forests increased (Reyna-Hurtado and Tanner 2005).

Encounters between peccary species

What happens when collared peccaries meet their larger relatives the white-lipped peccaries?  In the Atlantic Forest of Brazil, Keuroghlian et al. (2004) recorded 9 instances of collared peccary herds encountering white-lipped peccary subherds.  In each case, "within minutes of the encounters," the collared peccaries "rapidly vacated the area that white-lipped peccaries were entering."

These results are consistent with the Mexican study cited above, where collared peccary tracks were seen more frequently in medium-subperennial forests after white-lipped peccaries decreased their use of such forests (Reyna-Hurtado and Tanner 2005).


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Silvius KM  (2002)  Spatio-temporal patterns of palm endocarp use by three Amazonian forest mammals: granivory or 'grubivory'?  Journal of Tropical Ecology 18: 707-723

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Information about this Review

This review is also available in the following languages:  

Portuguese    Spanish

Photograph at top of page:  A herd of Collared Peccaries crosses the road in Big Bend National Park, Texas.  Photo by Sue Reilly (USA).

The author is:  Dr. Paul D. Haemig (Sweden)

The proper citation is:

Haemig PD  2012   Sympatric white-lipped peccary and collared peccary.  ECOLOGY.INFO 10

If you are aware of any important scientific publications about sympatric white-lipped peccary and collared peccary that were omitted from this review, or have other suggestions for improving it, please contact the author at his e-mail address: 

haemig {at} ecology.info 

© Copyright 2002-2012 Ecology Online Sweden.  All rights reserved.

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