Raptor habitat management and its implication on the biological control of the Hantavirus
- Rodents have a high impact on human activities, producing economical losses and diseases. One of these diseases is Hantavirus syndrome, whose reservoir is Oligoryzomys longicaudatus. Raptors are the natural biological controllers of rodents, being, therefore, our efficient and effective allies. Despite the existing legal dispositions for protection, 11 of the 33 species of raptors in Chile have conservation problems. We evaluated the effectiveness of nest boxes for Tyto alba, as a way to increase its population and propose a procedure for the biological control of O. longicaudatus. The study area was the National Reserve Lago Peuelas, Valparaiso, Chile. The variation of population density before and after the installation of the nest boxes was established both for T. alba and rodents. The results show that the nest boxes installed dramatically increased the population and the total density of T. alba, and a significant reduction of the abundance of small mammals was stated. We propose a methodological diagram for the biological control of the reservoir of the Hantavirus, which we have been implementing since 2001.