Research in Carnivores: From Their Interspecific Relationships to Their Prey

A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Diversity".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2020) | Viewed by 49251

Special Issue Editors

CSIC-UCLM - Instituto de Investigacion en Recursos Cinegeticos (IREC), Ciudad Real, Spain
Interests: carnivore ecology and conservation; predator–prey relationships; management and conservation of small game; ecological mechanisms for carnivore coexistence
Universidade do Porto, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Fornelo e Vairao, Portugal
Interests: carnivore ecology and conservation; community ecology; interspecific competition; quantitive ecology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Mammalian carnivores are widespread in most ecosystems, where they establish multiple ecological interactions that can extend beyond direct interveners, spreading through multiple levels of the ecological community, sometimes even causing trophic cascades. Interactions with their prey are the most obvious, but other less conspicuous interactions can have important ecological impacts. Many studies in recent decades have shown that indirect, non-consumptive effects of predators on their prey can often be as important as direct predation. However, obtaining sound inferences about these subtle effects is challenging; hence, further studies are required to expand our understanding of multi-level interactions. Similarly, interactions among carnivore species can occur at different ecological dimensions (spatial, temporal, trophic), eventually leading to intraguild killing under specific circumstances, which may involve consumption (intraguild predation) or not. However, recent evidence suggests that most often, coexistence in carnivore communities is achieved through different ecological mechanisms, which alleviate the potential competition among carnivore species. These mechanisms for coexistence are still poorly understood and require further research. The purpose of this Special Issue is to compile high-quality papers focusing on 1) predator–prey relationships between carnivore predators and their prey, 2) multidimensional ecological interactions between carnivore species, 3) how these interactions facilitate coexistence in carnivore communities, and 4) the ecological consequences of these interactions on other ecological levels, such as herbivores or beyond. We welcome field studies analyzing ecological interactions between carnivore species and their prey, in particular, case studies and review articles summarizing and analyzing trends from other studies and modeling articles based on data obtained from the literature. We expect that this Special Issue will contribute to fill the gaps in our knowledge of how carnivore species coexist and interact with other ecosystem elements.

Dr. Pablo Ferreras
Dr. Pedro S. Monterroso
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • Ecological mechanisms for coexistence in carnivore communities
  • Carnivore–prey interactions
  • Carnivore intraguild interactions
  • Carnivore competition
  • Non-consumptive effects of carnivore predators on their prey

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

12 pages, 1312 KiB  
Article
Resource Partitioning of Sympatric African Wolves (Canis lupaster) and Side-Striped Jackals (Canis adustus) in an Arid Environment from West Africa
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 477; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120477 - 15 Dec 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2484
Abstract
Knowledge on interference competition between species, particularly for scarce crucial resources, such as water, is a topic of increasing relevance for wildlife management given climate change scenarios. This study focuses on two sympatric canids, the African wolf and the side-striped jackal, to evaluate [...] Read more.
Knowledge on interference competition between species, particularly for scarce crucial resources, such as water, is a topic of increasing relevance for wildlife management given climate change scenarios. This study focuses on two sympatric canids, the African wolf and the side-striped jackal, to evaluate their group size and spatiotemporal activity patterns in the use of a limited resource by monitoring artificial waterholes in a semi-arid environment located in Senegal (West Africa). Remote cameras were deployed at five artificial waterholes to evaluate the number of individuals, age and activity patterns of resource use. African wolves (n = 71; 31% of all carnivore detections) and side-striped jackals (n = 104; 45%) were the most detected carnivore species. While both canids tended to occur alone at waterholes, they showed an evident monthly variation in group size. Both species showed a high activity overlap, with a bimodal activity pattern in waterhole use. However, we found evidence of unidirectional spatiotemporal avoidance, suggesting African wolves might be dominant over side-striped jackals. Our findings provide useful insights to investigate niche partitioning on the use of limited resources and have conservation implications for regions with a prolonged dry season. Full article
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17 pages, 1272 KiB  
Article
Consumption of Carnivores by Wolves: A Worldwide Analysis of Patterns and Drivers
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 470; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120470 - 11 Dec 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2954
Abstract
The occurrence of carnivore species in wolf diet has been overlooked and poorly studied despite the potential implications for wolf ecology and wildlife management. We conducted an extensive literature review, focusing on 120 wolf diet studies worldwide to assess global patterns of carnivore [...] Read more.
The occurrence of carnivore species in wolf diet has been overlooked and poorly studied despite the potential implications for wolf ecology and wildlife management. We conducted an extensive literature review, focusing on 120 wolf diet studies worldwide to assess global patterns of carnivore consumption by wolves and their ecological and human-related determinants. We used a total of 143 sampling sites with data on the consumption of carnivores by wolves. In total, 35 carnivore species were reported to be consumed by wolves, comprising members of all taxonomic carnivore families represented within the gray wolf range. The carnivores were mostly limited to occasional consumption (<5% of wolf diet) but could account for as much as 25% in some study areas. The most frequently consumed carnivore species were those with reported scavenging behavior, belonging to medium-sized generalist canids. Generalized linear model (GLM) analysis revealed that higher magnitudes of carnivore consumption were related to nonprotected areas as well as lower occurrences of wild ungulates, domestic ungulates, and small mammals in wolf diet, while higher numbers of consumed carnivore species were related to nonprotected areas with low vegetation productivity and lower occurrences of domestic ungulates and small mammals in wolf diet. Our results suggest that carnivore consumption by wolves is driven by altered ecosystems and human-dominated landscapes, where mesopredator densities are often increased and prey densities decreased, which intensify competition and the need for alternative food sources. Full article
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10 pages, 635 KiB  
Article
Intraguild Predation by the Eagle Owl Determines the Space Use of a Mesopredator Carnivore
Diversity 2020, 12(9), 359; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12090359 - 18 Sep 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3105
Abstract
Top predators shape the communities of sympatric predators by killing and displacing smaller predators. Predation risk pushes smaller predators to select enemy-free spaces irrespective of food availability, which results in changes in their behaviour, space use, distribution, and abundance. Although the landscape of [...] Read more.
Top predators shape the communities of sympatric predators by killing and displacing smaller predators. Predation risk pushes smaller predators to select enemy-free spaces irrespective of food availability, which results in changes in their behaviour, space use, distribution, and abundance. Although the landscape of fear dynamics are known for top predators such as the eagle owl and its impact on smaller raptors, the effect of the presence and abundance of the eagle owl on the space use of mesopredator carnivores remains poorly understood. Here, we studied this effect on the space use of the stone marten in a Mediterranean ecosystem where it shares rabbits as main prey with the eagle owl. We also accounted for the presence of another sympatric carnivore, the red fox. Using a multi-model inference, we found stone martens avoided areas with a higher abundance of eagle owls and rabbits, which suggested a hyperpredation process and a cognitive association by stone martens between rabbit hotspots and owl presence. We found a positive relationship between the space use of the red fox and the stone marten, which suggested foxes behaved as competitors and not predators of martens. Understanding intraguild predation can assist the conservation and management of predators and their prey. Full article
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16 pages, 798 KiB  
Article
Class Conflict: Diffuse Competition between Mammalian and Reptilian Predators
Diversity 2020, 12(9), 355; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12090355 - 15 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3229
Abstract
(1) Diffuse competition affects per capita rates of population increase among species that exploit similar resources, and thus can be an important structuring force in ecological communities. Diffuse competition has traditionally been studied within taxonomically similar groups, although distantly related intraguild species are [...] Read more.
(1) Diffuse competition affects per capita rates of population increase among species that exploit similar resources, and thus can be an important structuring force in ecological communities. Diffuse competition has traditionally been studied within taxonomically similar groups, although distantly related intraguild species are likely also to compete to some degree. (2) We assessed diffuse competition between mammalian and reptilian predators at sites in central Australia over 24 years. Specifically, we investigated the effect of dasyurid marsupial abundance on the diet breadth of three groups of lizards (nocturnal dietary generalists, diurnal dietary generalists and dietary specialists). (3) Nocturnal generalist lizards had progressively narrower diets as dasyurid abundance increased. The diet breadth of diurnal generalist lizards was unaffected by overall dasyurid abundance, but was restricted by that of the largest dasyurid species (Dasycercus blythi). Ant- and termite-specialist lizards were unaffected by dasyurid abundance. (4) Diffuse competition, mediated by interference, between dasyurids and nocturnal generalist lizards appears to have strong effects on these lizards, and is the first such between-class interaction to be described. Diffuse interactions may be widespread in natural communities, and merit further investigation among other disparate taxon groups that occur in the same ecological guilds. Full article
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10 pages, 2421 KiB  
Article
Raccoon Vigilance and Activity Patterns When Sympatric with Coyotes
Diversity 2020, 12(9), 341; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12090341 - 04 Sep 2020
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 8849
Abstract
Nonconsumptive effects of predators potentially have negative fitness consequences on prey species through changes in prey behavior. Coyotes (Canis latrans) recently expanded into the eastern United States, and raccoons (Procyon lotor) are a common mesocarnivore that potentially serve as [...] Read more.
Nonconsumptive effects of predators potentially have negative fitness consequences on prey species through changes in prey behavior. Coyotes (Canis latrans) recently expanded into the eastern United States, and raccoons (Procyon lotor) are a common mesocarnivore that potentially serve as competitors and food for coyotes. We used camera traps at baited sites to quantify vigilance behavior of feeding raccoons and used binomial logistic regression to analyze the effects of social and environmental factors. Additionally, we created raccoon and coyote activity patterns from the camera trap data by fitting density functions based on circular statistics and calculating the coefficient of overlap (Δ). Overall, raccoons were vigilant 46% of the time while foraging at baited sites. Raccoons were more vigilant during full moon and diurnal hours but less vigilant as group size increased and when other species were present. Raccoons and coyotes demonstrated nocturnal activity patterns, with coyotes more likely to be active during daylight hours. Overall, raccoons did not appear to exhibit high levels of vigilance. Activity pattern results provided further evidence that raccoons do not appear to fear coyotes, as both species were active at the same time and showed a high degree of overlap (Δ = 0.75) with little evidence of temporal segregation in activity. Thus, our study indicates that nonconsumptive effects of coyotes on raccoons are unlikely, which calls into question the ability of coyotes to initiate strong trophic cascades through some mesocarnivores. Full article
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16 pages, 1935 KiB  
Article
Facilitation or Competition? Effects of Lions on Brown Hyaenas and Leopards
Diversity 2020, 12(9), 325; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12090325 - 26 Aug 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3483
Abstract
Intra-guild interactions related to facilitation and competition can be strong forces structuring ecological communities and have been suggested as particularly prominent for large carnivores. The African lion (Panthera leo) is generally thought to be a dominant predator where it occurs and [...] Read more.
Intra-guild interactions related to facilitation and competition can be strong forces structuring ecological communities and have been suggested as particularly prominent for large carnivores. The African lion (Panthera leo) is generally thought to be a dominant predator where it occurs and can be expected to have broad effects on sympatric carnivore communities. We used data from two small game reserves in northern South Africa to relate the presence of African lions to abundance, habitat use, diet, and prey selection of two sympatric large carnivores, brown hyaenas (Parahyaena brunnea) and leopards (Panthera pardus). Our results offered some support for the facilitative effects of lions on brown hyaenas, and competitive effects on leopards. However, differences between populations living without and with lions were restricted to broad diet composition and appear not to have permeated into differences in either prey selection, abundance or habitat use. Therefore, we suggest that the potential effects of lions on the predator–prey interactions of sympatric predators may have been context dependent or absent, and subsequently argue that lions may not necessarily influence the predator–prey dynamics in the landscapes they live in beyond those caused by their own predatory behaviour. Full article
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18 pages, 1962 KiB  
Article
Inferring Species Interactions from Long-Term Monitoring Programs: Carnivores in a Protected Area from Southern Patagonia
Diversity 2020, 12(9), 319; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12090319 - 21 Aug 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2611
Abstract
Protected areas recently created in Argentina often include previously degraded lands, such as sheep ranches in the Patagonian deserts. We show the results of a 14-year monitoring program of three formerly persecuted carnivores, the culpeo fox (Lycalopex culpaeus), the South American [...] Read more.
Protected areas recently created in Argentina often include previously degraded lands, such as sheep ranches in the Patagonian deserts. We show the results of a 14-year monitoring program of three formerly persecuted carnivores, the culpeo fox (Lycalopex culpaeus), the South American grey fox (Lycalopex griseus) and the puma (Puma concolor), in two abandoned sheep ranches that were incorporated into a Patagonian national park approximately 25 years ago. The culpeo fox population underwent an average annual decline of 10–23%, whereas the grey fox and puma populations increased at an average annual rate of 7% and 19%, respectively. The grey fox’s increasing trends were strongly correlated with the decline of the culpeo fox, whereas the correlations between the fox and puma trends were weaker. Culpeo fox decline was stronger in the ranch where sheep and predator controls had been removed earlier. These relationships between species trends support the competitive release hypothesis, assuming that puma competition with the culpeo fox for trophic resources is stronger than competition with the grey fox, and that the puma can exclude culpeo foxes through interference. Species trends suggest a competitive hierarchy between fox species, with grey fox being the inferior competitor. However, mechanisms other than competition could not be discounted. Our study illustrates how long-term monitoring of interacting species allows a better understanding of ecological processes and wildlife ecology. Full article
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26 pages, 8547 KiB  
Article
Exotic Prey Facilitate Coexistence between Pumas and Culpeo Foxes in the Andes of Central Chile
Diversity 2020, 12(9), 317; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12090317 - 20 Aug 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 6699
Abstract
Coexistence between species with similar ecological niches implies species must segregate along one or more niche axes to survive. Space, time, and trophic resources are regarded as the principal axes upon which species segregate. We examined segregation along these niche axes to determine [...] Read more.
Coexistence between species with similar ecological niches implies species must segregate along one or more niche axes to survive. Space, time, and trophic resources are regarded as the principal axes upon which species segregate. We examined segregation along these niche axes to determine mechanisms underlying coexistence between the two main predators, puma (Puma concolor) and culpeo foxes (Lycalopex culpaeus) in the Andes of Central Chile. We used occupancy modeling to examine space use and overlap, Kernel Density Estimation to determine temporal activity patterns and overlap, and analysis of prey remains in feces to assess diet breadth and similarity. We found high spatial overlap and positive associations between detection of the carnivores lending little support for spatial segregation. Similarly, we found high nocturnal, temporal overlap between pumas and foxes that matched peaks in activity of prey. In contrast, we found relatively low dietary overlap indicating niche segregation likely occurs along the dietary axis. The Puma diet was dominated by introduced, exotic hares and foxes appeared to shift away from hares to rabbits, small mammals, and seeds. Given that lagomorphs are the main dietary resource for pumas in particular, management decisions regarding the control or eradication of such exotic species could negatively affected puma survival. Full article
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17 pages, 3805 KiB  
Article
Spatial Segregation between Red Foxes (Vulpes vulpes), European Wildcats (Felis silvestris) and Domestic Cats (Felis catus) in Pastures in a Livestock Area of Northern Spain
Diversity 2020, 12(7), 268; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12070268 - 06 Jul 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 6321
Abstract
Red foxes, European wildcats and domestic cats share cattle pastures for hunting in La Pernía Valley, northern Spain. To understand the mechanisms that allow the coexistence of these mesopredators in a habitat characterized by its anthropogenic modifications, we recorded sightings of these species [...] Read more.
Red foxes, European wildcats and domestic cats share cattle pastures for hunting in La Pernía Valley, northern Spain. To understand the mechanisms that allow the coexistence of these mesopredators in a habitat characterized by its anthropogenic modifications, we recorded sightings of these species in pastures in the summers of 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. We tested if the species preferred specific areas of pastures and if they exhibited any spatial segregation in the use of pastures. Red foxes did not show consistent preferences for any area of the pastures. European wildcats preferred pasture areas closer to streams and forest edges, whereas domestic cats preferred areas closer to buildings and paved roads whilst avoiding forest edges. All species pairs showed strong spatial segregation with less than 7% overlap. We hypothesize that spatial segregation is the mechanism used by European wildcats and domestic cats to avoid dangerous interactions with other predators and which characterizes their preference of specific areas on pastures, using areas near places that may protect them from other predators. Ultimately, the influence of fox presence (and probably that of other larger potential predators) on the use of pastures by European wildcats and domestic cats is decreasing the number of interactions between them and may help to prevent hybridization in this area. Full article
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11 pages, 302 KiB  
Article
Attraction and Avoidance between Predators and Prey at Wildlife Crossings on Roads
Diversity 2020, 12(4), 166; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12040166 - 24 Apr 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 3353
Abstract
Wildlife passages are currently built at roads and railway lines to re-establish connectivity. However, little is known about whether predator-prey interactions may reduce the effectiveness of the crossing structures. We evaluated the co-occurrence patterns of predator-prey species-pairs at 113 crossing structures, noting their [...] Read more.
Wildlife passages are currently built at roads and railway lines to re-establish connectivity. However, little is known about whether predator-prey interactions may reduce the effectiveness of the crossing structures. We evaluated the co-occurrence patterns of predator-prey species-pairs at 113 crossing structures, noting their coincidence at the same structure and/or on the same day. We built occupancy models using presence-absence matrices for three prey and five predator types obtained during 2076 passage-days of monitoring. The results indicate that predators and prey do not use passages independently. Attraction or segregation effects occurred in 20% of predator-prey species-pairs and were detected in 67% of cases with respect to same-day use. Our results show that both predator and prey species used the same structures to cross fenced roads. However, the spatial and daily patterns of crossing suggest that there were predators that attended crossings to search for prey and that prey species avoided using crossings in the presence of predators. Our results support two recommendations to avoid crossing structures losing effectiveness or becoming prey traps: (i) increase the number of wider structures to reduce the risks of predator-prey encounters and (ii) include inside them structural heterogeneity and refuges, to reduce the likelihood for predator-prey interactions. Full article
11 pages, 1742 KiB  
Article
Feeding Specialization of Honey Badgers in the Sahara Desert: A Trial of Life in a Hard Environment
Diversity 2020, 12(2), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12020059 - 02 Feb 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 5285
Abstract
The honey badger (Mellivora capensis) is a medium-sized carnivore distributed throughout Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, Turkmenistan, and India. However, available information on its ecology is very scarce. We studied its feeding ecology in the remote north-western Sahara Desert, based [...] Read more.
The honey badger (Mellivora capensis) is a medium-sized carnivore distributed throughout Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, Turkmenistan, and India. However, available information on its ecology is very scarce. We studied its feeding ecology in the remote north-western Sahara Desert, based on the contents of 125 fecal samples collected during large scale surveys. Samples were confirmed to belong to honey badgers by camera trapping and genetic analyses. Barely 18 prey species were detected. The diet primarily consisted of spiny-tailed lizards Uromastyx nigriventris and U. dispar (72% of volume in scats). Secondary prey items were arthropods (14%), small mammals (8%), other reptiles (4%), and eggs (0.8%). Some small geographic and temporal differences were related to the consumption of beetle larvae and rodents as alternative prey. Camera trapping and distance sampling surveys showed that diel activities did not overlap between honey badgers and spiny-tailed lizards, suggesting that badgers primarily dig lizards out of their burrows when inactive. Consumption of spiny lizards by other sympatric meso-carnivores was < 6.1% of occurrence (223 analyzed scats); the honey badger behaved as a trophic specialist in the Sahara, probably thanks to exclusive anatomical adaptations for digging. We discuss the role of this circumstance minimizing the exploitative competition, which could allow the survival of this large mustelid in this low productive and highly competitive environment. Full article
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