The sociogenetic structure of a controlled feral pig population

In Australia, the feral pig (Sus scrofa) is a significant vertebrate pest that has an impact on agricultural production, public health and ecosystem integrity. Although feral pigs are controlled throughout much of their range, little is known about the impact that these control programs have had on the social biology, structure and the dispersal of pigs. To begin to address this, we collected demographic data and genetic samples from 123 feral pigs culled during a regional aerial shooting program over 33 pastoral properties in the semi-arid rangelands of southern Queensland, Australia.

Sampling was carried out after two years of extensive control effort (aerial 1080-baiting) and the samples therefore represented a controlled, persecuted population with a bias towards young animals. The analysis of 13 microsatellite loci suggested that females will accept multiple matings, females form loose mobs that appear to be highly dynamic social groups, and males will travel large distances between mobs. These data indicate that feral pigs in this population had a high level of social contact and form a single open population with no evidence of genetic (population) structuring. Such information may be important to integrate into management strategies, particularly the development of contingency plans regarding the spread of wildlife diseases.

Author Peter B. S. Spencer, Steve J. Lapidge, Jordan O. Hampton and John R. Pluske
Date 07/05/2005
Year 2005
Secondary title Wildlife Research
Volume 32
Number 4
Publisher CSIRO Publishing
Pages 297-304
Notes Notes
Control method Baiting
Region QLD