Vedel, G., de la Peña, E., Moreno Rojas, J.M., Montenegro Gómez, J.C. & Carranza, J. (2022) Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope values in hair reveal management differences and hidden practices in wild boar populations. Science of The Total Environment, 823. 154071, ISSN 0048-9697,
The analysis of stable isotopes in different tissues has been widely used to obtain information on the ecology and nutritional patterns of wildlife. The isotope ratios of the stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen (δ13C and δ15N) analysed in different tissues are directly related to the animal’s diet and, to some extent, to the environment where the individual has growth. Specifically, this type of analysis in hair samples has become relevant as it provides information on the quality and long-term composition of the diet that produced the isotope accumulation during the tissue growth. We took samples of wild boar (Sus scrofa) hair from 7 different populations in the south-west of Spain (Mediterranean habitats), in the 2018/2019 hunting season. The main objectives of this study were (i) to investigate the use of hair stable isotopes to reveal differences in composition and quality of the diet of wild boar within the same population or between populations, and (ii) to use hair isotopes as a tool to uncover hidden management practices that may occur in hunting areas associated with the use of supplementary feeding or even captive breeding and release. Each animal had a hair (long 10 cm) analysed in duplicate, previously cut into parts of equal size (from the oldest part of the hair to the most recent part), that were analysed separately. We found differences in δ13C and δ 15N between hair parts and populations, which can be related to management actions at different times during the hair growth. Moreover, the use of corn, a type of plant not occurring naturally in the study area, can be documented with the isotope analysis to prove unauthorized supplementary feeding or captive origin of wild boar in hunting areas.