Acta Theriologica

, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 295–302 | Cite as

Habitat-use patterns of the coypuMyocastor coypus in an urban wetland of its original distribution

  • María J. Corriale
  • Santiago M. Arias
  • Roberto F. Bó
  • Gustavo Porini


The coypuMyocastor coypus Molina, 1782 is a semi-aquatic rodent native to Southern South America. In Argentina, it is an important fur resource for rural communities, and there is no evidence of its behaviour as a pest. Between October 2003 and February 2004, studies of habitat use at macro and micro scales were carried out on 6 ponds in a golf course, an artificial urban wetland free from hunting pressure and located within the coypu’s original distribution area. Coypus feed and build their burrows in the ponds but in the absence of hydrophilic vegetation, coypus sought food away from the ponds, covering distances up to 108 m and a feeding area as large as 19 m2. At the macrohabitat scale, the lower the herbaceous vegetation availability at the shore, the greater was the effective usage area. At the microhabitat level, coypus appeared to build their burrows in rather steep slopes (median = 75 cm) or high up on shores rising above the water level (mean = 61.2 cm) selecting ponds with mean values close to the aforementioned figures. The absence of hydrophilous vegetation, natural predators and human activity during the highest activity hours, in addition to suitable food resources around the year are considered to favour the coypu’s behaviour as a pest in these environments.

Key words

Myocastor coypus habitat use urban wetlands Argentina 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abbas A. 1988. Impact du ragondin (Myocastor coypus Molina) sur une culture de mais (Zea mays L.) dans le marais Pointevin. Acta Oecologica/Oecological Applicata 9: 173–189.Google Scholar
  2. Abbas A. 1991. Feeding strategy of coypu (Myocastor coypus) in central western France. Journal of Zoology, London 224: 385–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anon. 1978. Coypu: Report of the Coypu Strategy Group. United Kingdon. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: 1–35.Google Scholar
  4. Bó R. F., Porini G, Arias S. M. and Corriale M. J. (in press). Estudios ecolôgicos básicos para el manejo sustentable del coipo (Myocastor coypus) en los grandes sistemas de hume dales de Argentina. [In: Manejo Sustentable de Humedales Fluviales en América Latina. Ediciones Universidad Nacional del Litoral, UNL / Fundaciôn Protéger — Wetlands International]Google Scholar
  5. Borgnia M., Galante M.L. and Cassini M.H. 2000. Diet of the coypu (Myocastor coypus) in agro-systems of the Argentinean Pampas. The Journal of Wildlife Management 64: 354–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Braun S. E. 1985. Home range and activity patterns of the giant Kangaroo rat,Dipodomys ingens. Journal of Mammalogy 66: 190–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cabrera A. L. 1976. Regiones Fitogeográficas Argentinas. Enciclopedia Argentina de Agricultura y Ganadería 2: 1–85.Google Scholar
  8. Carter J. and Leonard B. P. 2002. A review of the literature on the worldwide distribution, spread of, and efforts to eradicate the coypu (Myocastor coypus). Wildlife Society Bulletin 30: 162–175.Google Scholar
  9. Colantoni L. O. 1993. Ecologia poblacional de la nutria (Myocastor coypus) en la provincia de Buenos Aires. Fauna y Flora Silvestres 1: 1–25.Google Scholar
  10. Corriale M. J. 2004. Estado poblacional y patron de uso de habitat del coipo (Myocastor coypus) en un humedal de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires. BSc thesis, University of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires: 1–97.Google Scholar
  11. D’Adamo P., Guichón M. L., Bó R. F. and Cassini M. H. 2000. Habitat use of the coypuMyocastor coypus in agrosystems of the Argentinean Pampas. Acta Theriologica 45: 25–34.Google Scholar
  12. Daniel W. W. 1978. Applied nonparametric statistics. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston: 1–503.Google Scholar
  13. Doncaster C. P. and Micol T. 1989. Annual cycle of a coypus (Myocastor coypus) population: male and female strategies. Journal of Zoology, London 217: 227–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dunn O. J. 1964. Multiple comparisons using rank sums. Technometrics 6: 241–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Evans J. 1970. About nutria and their control. Resource publication No. 86, Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife Research Center, Denver 86: 1–65.Google Scholar
  16. Garshelis D. L. 2002. Delusions in habitat evaluation: measuring use, selection, and importance. [In: Research techniques in animal ecology. Controversies and consequences. L. Boitani and T. K. Fuller, eds]. Columbia University Press, New York: 111–164.Google Scholar
  17. Gosling L. M. 1974. The Coypu in East Anglia. Transactions of the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists Society 23: 49–59.Google Scholar
  18. Gosling L. M. and Baker S. J. 1991. Coypu. [In: Handbook of British mammals. G. B. Corbet and S. Harris, eds]. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford: 267–275.Google Scholar
  19. Gosling L. M., Baker S. J. and Clark C. N. 1988. An attempt to remove coypus (Myocastor coypus) from a wetland habitat in East Anglia. Journal of Applied Ecology 25: 49–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Guichón M. L. and Cassini M. H. 1999. Local determinants of coypu distribution along the Luján River, east-central Argentina. The Journal of Wildlife Management 63: 895–900.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Guichón M. L., Borgnia M., Fernández Righi C, Cassini G. H. and Cassini M. H. 2003a. Social behavior and group formation in the coypu (Myocastor coypus) in the Argentinean Pampas. Journal of Mammalogy 84: 254–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Guichón M. L., Benítez V. B., Abba A., Borgnia M. and Cassini M. H. 2003b. Foraging behaviour of coypus Myocastor coupus: why do coypus consume aquatic plants? Acta Oecologica 24: 241–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Johnson D. H. 1980. The comparison of usage and availability measurements for evaluating resource preference. Ecology 61: 65–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kuhn L. W. and Peloquin E. P. 1974. Oregon’s nutria problem. Proceedings of Vertebrate Pest Conference 6: 101–105.Google Scholar
  25. Mach J. J. and Poché R. M. 2002. Nutria control in Louisiana. [In: Nutria (Myocastor coypus) in Louisiana. A report prepared for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries by Genesis Laboratories, Inc.]. Wellington, Colorado: 1–155.Google Scholar
  26. Manly B., McDonald L. and Thomas D. 1993. Resource selection by animals. Statistical design and analysis for field studies. Chapman and Hall, London: 1–177.Google Scholar
  27. Marcum C. L and Loftsgaarden D. O. 1980. A nonmapping technique for studying habitat preferences. The Journal of Wildlife Management 44: 963–968.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Merler J., Bó R. F., Quintana R. D. and Malvárez A. I. 1994. Habitat studies at different spatial scales for multiple conservation goals in the Parana River Delta (Argentina). International Journal of Ecology and Environmental Sciences 20: 149–162.Google Scholar
  29. Morton J., Calver A. E., Jefferies D. J., Norris J. H. M., Roberts K., Southern H. N. and Fry D. R. 1978. Coypu. Report of the Coypu Strategy Group. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. U.K.: 1–46.Google Scholar
  30. Myers R. S., Shaffer G. P. and Llwellyn D. W. 1995. Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum L rich) restoration in Southeast Louisiana-the relative effects of herbivory, flooding, competition, and macronutrients. Wetlands 15: 141–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Palomares F., Bó R. F., Beltrán J., Villafahe G. and Moreno S. 1994. Winter circadian activity pattern of free-ranging coypus in the Paraná River Delta, eastern Argentina. Acta Theriologica 39: 83–88.Google Scholar
  32. Parera A. (ed) 2002. Los mamíferos de la Argentina y la región austral de Sudamérica. Primera Edición. Buenos Aires: 1–454.Google Scholar
  33. Peloquin E. P. 1969. Growth and reproduction of the feral nutriaMyocastor coypus (Molina) near Corvallis, Oregon. MMS Thesis, Oregon State University, Corvallis: 1–55.Google Scholar
  34. Porini G., Bó R. F., Moggia L., Fernández R., Osinalde J., Vilches A., Cao G., Busatto M., Sans M. L., Rozatti J. C. and Quiani R. 2003. Estimaciones de densidad y uso de habitat deMyocastor coypus en áreas de humedales de Argentina. [In: Libro de Memorias del V Congreso Internacional sobre Manejo de Fauna Silvestre en Amazonia y Latinoamérica, Sánchez P., A. Morales y H.F. López Arévalo eds]. Universidad Nacional de Colombia — Fundación Natura: 134–154.Google Scholar
  35. Quintana R. D. 1996. Habitat suitability of capybara (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris) in relation with landscape heterogeneity and cattle interactions. PhD thesis, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires: 1–273.Google Scholar
  36. Quintana R. D., Monge S. and Malvárez A. I. 1998. Feeding patterns of capybaraHydrochaeris hydrochaeris (Rodentia, Hydrochaeridae) and cattle in the non-insular area of the Lower Delta of the Paraná River, Argentina. Mammalia 62: 37–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Reggiani G, Boitani L., D’Antoni S. and De Stefano R. 1993. Biology and control of the coypu in the Mediterranean area. Supplemento alle Ricerche di Biologia della Selvaggina 21: 67–100.Google Scholar
  38. Sierra de Soriano B. 1963. La habitación deMyocastor coypus bonariensis Geoffroy «Nutria». [In: Actas del Prime-Congreso Sudamericano de Zoología]. Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Buenos Aires: 145–152.Google Scholar
  39. Sunquist M. E., Austad S. N. and Sunquist F. 1987. Movements patterns and home range in the common opossum (Didelphis marsupialis). Journal of Mammalogy 68: 173–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Thomas D. L. and Taylor E. J. 1990. Study designs and tests for comparing resource use and availability. The Journal of Wildlife Management 54: 322–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Verheyden C. and Abbas A. 1996. Impact du ragondin sur le milieu. [In: Le ragondin: biologie et méthodes de limitation des populations. P. Jouventin, P. T. Micol, C. Verheyden y G. Guédon, eds]. Association de coordination technique agricole, Paris: 44–54.Google Scholar
  42. Wiens J. A. (ed) 1992. The ecology of bird communities. Foundations and Patterns Cambridge University Press 1: 1–539.Google Scholar
  43. Woods C. A., Contreras L., Wilier-Chapman G. and Whidden H. P. 1992.Myocastor coypus. [In: Mammalian Species No. 398. B.J. Verts, T.L. Best, G.N. Cameron y S. Anderson, eds]. The American Society of Mammalogists: 1–8.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Mammal Research Institute, Bialowieza, Poland 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • María J. Corriale
    • 1
  • Santiago M. Arias
    • 1
  • Roberto F. Bó
    • 1
  • Gustavo Porini
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Ecología Regional, Dto. de Ecología, Genética y Evolución, Facultad de Cs. Exactas y NaturalesUniversidad de Buenos Aires. Ciudad UniversitariaBuenos AiresArgentina
  2. 2.Dirección de Fauna SilvestreSecretaría de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sustentable de la NaciónBuenos AiresArgentina

Personalised recommendations