Effects of wild boar disturbance on vegetation and soil properties in the Monte Desert, Argentina.
The wild boar (Sus scrofa) is an exotic agent of disturbance that arrived in the Ñacuñán Reserve of Argentina in the 1980s. When foraging, the wild boar overturns extensive areas of soil leaving them bare of vegetation. Knowledge is scarce about the boar's impact on vegetation composition and soil properties in the Monte Desert, Argentina. The objective of our study was to determine the short terms effects of wild boar rooting on vegetation and on soil physical, chemical and microbiological properties. Our results indicate that rooting activities significantly reduced the plant cover of herbs, perennial grasses and shrubs, and decreased plant richness and diversity. Disturbed soils showed less compaction, more moisture, a low C/N ratio, and high content of mineral nitrogen. These new soil characteristics could be responsible for a reduced plant cover and less soil bulk density, which could increase soil degradation by wind erosion.