Potential ecological effects of the free-roaming horses Equus caballus (Perissodactyla: Equidae) on wild mammals: a review of current knowledge
PDF
HTML
EPUB

Keywords

wildlife
habitat
ungulates
rodents
horses

How to Cite

Morera Chacón, B., Montalvo Guadamuz, V., Sánchez Porras, R., & Carrillo Jiménez, E. (2021). Potential ecological effects of the free-roaming horses Equus caballus (Perissodactyla: Equidae) on wild mammals: a review of current knowledge. UNED Research Journal, 13(2), e3488. https://doi.org/10.22458/urj.v13i2.3488

Abstract

 Introduction: The horse (Equus caballus) is an adaptable large herbivore distributed in a wide range of terrestrial biomes that negatively affects ecosystems around the world.  Most research on horse–ecosystems interactions have been focused on plants and soils, whereas horse effects on vertebrate species are poorly understanded. Objective: We aimed to synthesize, at a global scale, the effects of free-roaming horses on wild mammals. Methods: We conducted a systematic literature review that included these words; "feral horses + competition ", "feral horses + interactions", "feral horses + impacts", "feral horses + effects", based on the “Web of Science” internet search engine. Results: We located 366 articles in our search, but only 14 peer-reviewed documents described the effects of horses on local wild mammals. Most studies were published in the last decade (64%), and were located in United States (64%).  Additional information showed most studies used correlational approaches while experimental approaches were used less. The effect of horses on mammal taxonomic groups varied significantly, suggesting changes on habitat structure mostly affects vertebrate species such as small rodents. Nevertheless, large ungulates exhibited interference competition derived from presence of free-roaming horses. Conclusion: This review identified patterns and gaps in our current knowledge about the effect of horse presence on wild mammals, and can help to readdress further research. Therefore, we recommend careful monitoring of horses and their potential effects on wildlife by using species proxies such as ungulates and rodents to determine if the presence of horses in protected areas affects conservation objectives
https://doi.org/10.22458/urj.v13i2.3488
PDF
HTML
EPUB

References

Arandhara, S., Sathishkumar, S., & Baskaran, N. (2020). Modelling the effect of covariates on the detectability and density of native blackbucks and invasive feral–horse using Multiple Covariate Distance Sampling at Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary, Southern India. Mammalian Biology, 100, 1–14.

Bakker, E.S., & Olff, H. (2003). Impact of different-sized herbivores on recruitment opportunities for subordinate herbs in grasslands. Journal of Vegetation science, 14,465–474.

Baur, L. E., Schoenecker, K. A., & Smith, M. D. (2018). Effects of feral horse herds on rangeland plant communities across a precipitation gradient. Western North American Naturalist, 77(4), 526–539.

Beever E., & Herrick, J. (2006). Effects of feral horses in Great Basin landscapes on soils and ants: direct and indirect mechanisms. Journal of Arid Environments, 66, 96–112.

Beever, E. (2003). Management implications of the ecology of free-roaming horses in semi-arid ecosystems of the western United States. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 31(3), 887–895.

Beever, E. A., & Brussard, P. F. (2000). Examining ecological consequences of feral horse grazing using exclosures. Western North American Naturalist, 60(3), 236–254.

Beever, E. A., & Brussard, P. F. (2004). Community and landscape-level responses of reptiles and small mammals to feral–horse grazing in the Great Basin. Journal of Arid Environments, 59(2), 271–297.

Beever, E. A., Huntsinger, L., & Petersen, S. L. (2018). Conservation challenges emerging from free-roaming horse management: A vexing social-ecological mismatch. Biological Conservation, 226, 321–328.

Berger, J. (1985). Interspecific interactions and dominance among wild Great Basin ungulates. Journal of Mammalogy, 66(3), 571–573.

Boyd C. S., Davies, K. W. & Collins, G. H. (2017). Impacts of feral horse use on herbaceous riparian vegetation within a sagebrush steppe ecosystem. Rangeland Ecology and Management, 70, 411–417.

Cherubin, R. C., Venn, S. E., Driscoll, D. A., Doherty, T. S. & Ritchie, E. G. (2019). Feral horse impacts on threatened plants and animals in sub‐alpine and montane environments in Victoria, Australia. Ecological management and restoration, 20(1), 47–56.

Coates, K. P., & Schemnitz, S. D. (1994). Habitat use and behavior of male mountain sheep in foraging associations with wild horses. The Great Basin Naturalist, 54(1), 86–90.

Cusack, J., & Bahaa-el-din, L. (2018). African Journal of Ecology special section–Camera trapping in Africa. African Journal of Ecology, 56(4), 689–689.

Davies, K. W., & Boyd, C. S. (2019). Ecological effects of free-roaming horses in North American rangelands. BioScience, 69(7), 558–565.

De Villalobos, A. E., & Schwerdt, L. (2017). Feral horses and alien plants: effects on the structure and function of the Pampean Mountain grasslands (Argentina). Ecoscience, 25(1), 49–60.

Driscoll, D. A., Worboys, G. L., Allan, H., Banks, S. C., Beeton, N. J., Cherubin, R. C., Doherty, T. S., Finlayson, C. M., Green, K., Hartley, R., Hope, G., Johnson, C. N., Lintermans, M., Mackey, B., Paull, D. J., Pittock, J., Porfirio, L., Ritchie, E. G., Sato, C. F., Scheele, B. C., Slattery, D. A., Venn, S., Watson, D., Watson, M., & Williams, R. M. (2019). Impacts of feral horses in the Australian Alps and evidence‐based solutions. Ecological management and restoration, 20(1), 63–72.

Eldridge, D. J., Ding, J. & Travers, S. K. (2020). Feral horse activity reduces environmental quality in ecosystems globally. Biological Conservation, 241, 108367.

Eldridge, D.J., Travers, S. K., Val, J., Zaja, A. & Veblen, K. E. (2019). The activity of feral horses is associated with degraded subalpine grassland structure and reduced habitat for a threatened rodent. Rangeland Ecology Management, 72, 467–473.

Farías, A. (2019). Métodos alternativos para el estudio de mamíferos en campo: métodos directos e indirectos. In Teixeira, F. (Eds), Experimentación con animales no tradicionales en Uruguay (pp 182–192). Montevideo, Uruguay: Comisión Honoraria de Experimentación Animal, Universidad de la República.

Gooch, A. M., Petersen, S. L., Collins, G. H., Smith, T. S., McMillan, B. R., & Eggett, D. L. (2017). The impact of feral horses on pronghorn behavior at water sources. Journal of Arid Environments, 138, 38–43.

Hall, L. K., Larsen, R. T., Knight, R. N., & McMillan, B. R. (2018). Feral horses influence both spatial and temporal patterns of water use by native ungulates in a semi‐arid environment. Ecosphere, 9(1), e02096.

Hall, L.K., Larsen, R. T., Westover, M. D., Day, C. C., Knight, R. N., & McMillan, B. R. (2016). Influence of exotic horses on the use of water by communities of native wildlife in a semi-arid environment. Journal of Arid Environments, 127, 100–105.

Lisón, F., Jiménez–Franco, M. V., Altamirano, A., Haz, Á., Calvo, J. F., & Jones, G. (2019). Bat ecology and conservation in semi–arid and arid landscapes: a global systematic review. Mammal Review, 50(1), 52–67.

Mishra, C., Van Wieren, S. E., Ketner, P., Heitkönig, I. M., & Prins, H. H. (2004). Competition between domestic livestock and wild bharal Pseudois nayaur in the Indian Trans–Himalaya. Journal of Applied Ecology, 41, 344–354.

Nimmo, D. G., & Miller, K. (2007). Ecological and human dimensions of management of feral horses in Australia: a review. Wildlife Research, 34(5), 408–417.

Ostermann–Kelm, S., Atwill, E. R., Rubin, E. S., Jorgensen, M. C., & Boyce, W. M. (2008). Interactions between feral horses and desert bighorn sheep at water. Journal of Mammalogy, 89(2), 459–466.

Perry, N. D., Morey, P., & San Miguel, G. (2015). Dominance of a natural water source by feral horses. The Southwestern Naturalist, 60(4), 390–393.

Proulx, G., Cattet, M. R. & Powell, R. A. (2012). Humane and efficient capture and handling methods for carnivores. In Boitani L, & Powell, R. (Eds.), Carnivore ecology and conservation: A handbook of techniques (pp 70–129). New York, EE. UU: Oxford University Press Inc.

R Development Core Team. (2019). R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. Retrieved from https://www.r-project.org/.

Robertson, G., Wright, J., Brown, D., Yuen, K., & Tongway, D. (2019). An assessment of feral horse impacts on treeless drainage lines in the Australian Alps. Ecological management and restoration, 20(1), 21–30.

Schieltz, J. M., & Rubenstein, D. I. (2016). Evidence based review: positive versus negative effects of livestock grazing on wildlife. What do we really know? Environmental Research Letters, 11(11), 113003.

Schulz, M., Schroder, M., & Green, K. (2019). The occurrence of the Broad‐toothed Rat Mastacomys fuscus in relation to feral Horse impacts. Ecological management and restoration, 20(1), 31–36.

Scorolli, A. L. (2016). Manejo de caballos cimarrones: la situación en la Argentina. Mastozoología neotropical, 23(2),325–333.

Scorolli, A. L. (2018). Feral horse management in Parque Provincial Ernesto Tornquist, Argentina. Human-Wildlife Interactions, 12(1), 102–1010.

Ward–Fear, G., Brown, G. P., Pearson, D. J., & Shine, R. (2016). An invasive tree facilitates the persistence of native rodents on an over‐grazed floodplain in tropical Australia. Austral Ecology, 42(4), 385–393.
Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.