The potential for strong competition among small sympatric carnivores results in a need for coexistence strategies whereby competitors partition along spatial, temporal and dietary axes as a means to reduce ecological overlaps. We determined spatial and temporal partitioning patterns of a guild of small African carnivores: the African wildcat Felis silvestris lybica, grey mongoose Galerella pulverulenta, small-spotted genet Genetta genetta, striped polecat Ictonyx striatus, and the yellow mongoose Cynictis penicillata. We quantified the degree of spatial and temporal co-occurrence of the small carnivores using camera trap data over a year-long period. Carnivores separated into two temporal groups: nocturnal species (wildcat, polecat and genet) and diurnal species (mongooses). In addition, carnivores within the same temporal group had strong patterns of reduced spatial co-occurrence. The smaller bodied carnivores showed lower co-occurrence with the larger bodied African wildcat than expected by chance, supporting the idea of dominant competitor avoidance. Thus, small carnivores likely minimise competitive interactions through spatio-temporal habitat partitioning.
Oecologia – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 21, 2017
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