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Research article2017Peer reviewedOpen access

Indicators of land use by cattle: Associations among methods and role of environmental factors

Da, Costa, M.; Páscoa, A.; Sant’Anna, A.; Silva, L.; Jung, J.


The objectives of this study were to investigate the associations among direct and indirect indicators of land use by cattle and to understand the role of some environmental factors on the definition of these indicators. The study was carried out in two areas, Nature Reserve (63.6 ha) and Private Area (30.4 ha), with 53 Hereford animals in each area. Daytime observations of animals’ location were used as direct indicator of land use; while cattle track and dung pat distributions throughout the areas were used as indirect indicators. Environmental characteristics recorded were: terrain slope, prevalence of woody vegetation cover (forests, isolated tress and open grasslands), as well as the position of fences, water sources and salt blocks. Spatial correlations among the three indicators of land use were low (r < 0.30). The environmental factors had lower predictive power of animals’ sightings distribution, followed by cattle tracks, and the highest predictive power occurred for dung pat distribution. We concluded that each one of the methods evaluated in this study addresses a different aspect of land use by cattle. The environmental factors assessed were useful to predict the dung pat distribution, but less valuable to predict the cattle tracks and animals’ sightings distributions.


Beef cattle; Dung pats; Geographic information system; Spatial statistical analysis; Tracks

Published in

Acta Scientiarum. Animal Sciences
2017, Volume: 39, number: 4, pages: 409-418
Publisher: Eduem - Editora da Universidade Estadual de Maringa

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Animal and Dairy Science
    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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