Niche relations among three sympatric Mediterranean carnivores

Niche relations among three sympatric Mediterranean carnivores Previous studies carried out in the Doñana National Park reported that red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) were killed by Iberian lynxes (Lynx pardinus), whereas similar-sized Eurasian badgers (Meles meles) were not. Therefore, we predicted that fox would avoid lynx predation risk by niche segregation whereas we did not expect such a segregation between badger and lynx. As an approach for evaluating our predictions, we compared their diet, activity patterns, and habitat use in an area of Doñana where the three carnivores are sympatric. Lynxes preyed almost uniquely on European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), and though badgers and foxes were omnivorous, rabbits also were a major prey, resulting in high overlaps throughout the year. However, badgers preyed largely on small rabbits, whereas lynxes and foxes preyed mainly on medium-sized rabbits. There were also interspecific differences in activity patterns. Maximum levels of activity among lynxes were during sunrise and dusk (49–67%). Foxes were most active during dusk and night (34–67%), and badgers were mainly nocturnal (53–87%). Though there were seasonal differences in the amount of activity of each species, specific activity patterns changed little throughout the year. There was a strong difference in annual habitat use by the three species (P < 0.0001). Lynxes used mainly the Mediterranean scrubland during both the active (PMAX) and the resting (PMIN) periods. During PMIN, foxes used the Mediterranean scrubland intensively (40% of locations on average), but during PMAX, they used the pastureland much more intensively despite this habitat being poorer in their main prey (rabbits). As a consequence, foxes and lynxes exhibited segregation in their habitat use during the active period. Badgers also used the Mediterranean scrubland intensively, especially during PMIN. There were no seasonal differences in habitat use for lynx and fox, but there was for badgers (P < 0.015). Within the study area, the three species selected habitat suggesting they were sensitive to factors such as vegetation and prey abundance. However, in general, carnivore habitat use did not correlate with rabbit abundance. We propose that foxes avoided lynxes by using, during activity, habitats not frequented by lynxes, and that a low predation risk associated with the distinctive foraging mode of badgers may facilitate its coexistence with other carnivores. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Oecologia Springer Journals

Niche relations among three sympatric Mediterranean carnivores

Loading next page...
 
/lp/springer-journals/niche-relations-among-three-sympatric-mediterranean-carnivores-ABFDVcRwuP
Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 1999 by Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
Subject
Life Sciences; Ecology; Plant Sciences; Hydrology/Water Resources
ISSN
0029-8549
eISSN
1432-1939
DOI
10.1007/s004420050915
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Previous studies carried out in the Doñana National Park reported that red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) were killed by Iberian lynxes (Lynx pardinus), whereas similar-sized Eurasian badgers (Meles meles) were not. Therefore, we predicted that fox would avoid lynx predation risk by niche segregation whereas we did not expect such a segregation between badger and lynx. As an approach for evaluating our predictions, we compared their diet, activity patterns, and habitat use in an area of Doñana where the three carnivores are sympatric. Lynxes preyed almost uniquely on European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), and though badgers and foxes were omnivorous, rabbits also were a major prey, resulting in high overlaps throughout the year. However, badgers preyed largely on small rabbits, whereas lynxes and foxes preyed mainly on medium-sized rabbits. There were also interspecific differences in activity patterns. Maximum levels of activity among lynxes were during sunrise and dusk (49–67%). Foxes were most active during dusk and night (34–67%), and badgers were mainly nocturnal (53–87%). Though there were seasonal differences in the amount of activity of each species, specific activity patterns changed little throughout the year. There was a strong difference in annual habitat use by the three species (P < 0.0001). Lynxes used mainly the Mediterranean scrubland during both the active (PMAX) and the resting (PMIN) periods. During PMIN, foxes used the Mediterranean scrubland intensively (40% of locations on average), but during PMAX, they used the pastureland much more intensively despite this habitat being poorer in their main prey (rabbits). As a consequence, foxes and lynxes exhibited segregation in their habitat use during the active period. Badgers also used the Mediterranean scrubland intensively, especially during PMIN. There were no seasonal differences in habitat use for lynx and fox, but there was for badgers (P < 0.015). Within the study area, the three species selected habitat suggesting they were sensitive to factors such as vegetation and prey abundance. However, in general, carnivore habitat use did not correlate with rabbit abundance. We propose that foxes avoided lynxes by using, during activity, habitats not frequented by lynxes, and that a low predation risk associated with the distinctive foraging mode of badgers may facilitate its coexistence with other carnivores.

Journal

OecologiaSpringer Journals

Published: Oct 12, 1999

There are no references for this article.

You’re reading a free preview. Subscribe to read the entire article.


DeepDyve is your
personal research library

It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.

Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.

All for just $49/month

Explore the DeepDyve Library

Search

Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly

Organize

Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.

Access

Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.

Your journals are on DeepDyve

Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.

All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.

See the journals in your area

DeepDyve

Freelancer

DeepDyve

Pro

Price

FREE

$49/month
$360/year

Save searches from
Google Scholar,
PubMed

Create folders to
organize your research

Export folders, citations

Read DeepDyve articles

Abstract access only

Unlimited access to over
18 million full-text articles

Print

20 pages / month

PDF Discount

20% off