Frugivorous diet and food availability of Cerdocyon thous and Lycalopex gymnocercus in the Serra do Sudeste Region, RS, Brazil
Foxes are common species in the Pampa Biome of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, however, research on their diet and their role in seed dispersal are still very scarce. In this context, this research aimed to evaluate the seasonal diet of frugivores of crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous Linnaeus, 1706) and pampas-fox (Lycalopex gymnocercus G. Fischer, 1814) in the Pampa Biome. The study area with approximately 1,751 hectares is located in the Phytogeographic Region called Serra de Sudeste, Encruzilhada do Sul County, RS. Fox feces were collected over a year on standardized trails, and fecal samples were counted without distinguishing between the two species, considering the great visual similarity and eating habits. A total of 53 fecal samples were analyzed between June 2015 and July 2016, and 12 plant species belonging to 10 botanical families were identified. The most common species found were Jerivá (Syagrus romanzoffiana), Podocarpus (Podocarpus lambertii), Pixirica (Miconia hiemalis), Guabiroba-do-campo (Campomanesia aurea), Bananinha-do-mato (Bromelia antiacantha), Cocão (Erythroxyllum deciduum) and Uva-do-Japão (Hovenia dulcis). Both species of foxes have a frugivorous diet adapted to the availability of fruits in each season (fruiting), rather than preference for certain species of plants, clearly demonstrating the opportunistic habit of these two species, and highlighting their importance as dispersers of plant species and consequent maintenance of ecosystems.