Coexistence of predators in time : Effects of season and prey availability on species activity within a Mediterranean carnivore guild

Marc Vilella, Mariona Ferrandiz-Rovira, Ferran Sayol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The degree of coexistence among predators can determine the structure of ecological communities. Niche partitioning is a common strategy applied by species to enhance their coexistence. Diet, habitat, or time use can be responsible for segregation among carnivore species, the latter factor being the least studied in Mediterranean ecosystems. Terrestrial medium-sized carnivores (i.e., mesocarnivores) carry out important functions in ecosystems, and identifying their interactions is essential for their conservation. In this study, we explore the activity of a terrestrial mesocarnivore guild in order to determine seasonal differences in daily activity patterns of competitors and prey. We also investigate how the abundance of a common mesocarnivore prey in the region, small mammals, influences the activity of predators. During a year, camera trap devices (n = 18) were installed in Montseny Natural Park (Catalan Pre-Coastal Range, North-East Iberian Peninsula), a region that hosts five mesocarnivore species. Camera trapping detections were used to estimate their daily activity patterns and corresponding overlaps. We also surveyed small mammal plots (n = 5) in order to calculate prey abundance and test its effect on the relative activity of each carnivore species. Despite all target mesocarnivores are mainly nocturnal, the activity overlap among them varies according to species particularities and season. Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) appears as a generalist species in terms of time use, whereas stone marten (Martes foina) and genet (Genetta genetta) show the most similar activity patterns and both of them seem to be positively influenced by small mammal abundance. Overall, the diversity found in the way mesocarnivore species use time could facilitate their coexistence. Despite activity pattern similarities among carnivore species should not be directly translated to negative interactions, they can have a strong influence in habitat and resource-limited ecosystems. Therefore, activity overlaps should be taken into account when discussing wildlife management actions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11408-11422
Number of pages15
JournalEcology and Evolution
Volume10
Issue number20
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Activity overlap
  • Activity pattern
  • Camera trapping
  • Mesocarnivore
  • Relative activity index
  • Small mammals
  • Temporal niche

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