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Influence of exotic forest plantations on occupancy and co-occurrence patterns in a Mediterranean carnivore guild

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JournalJournal of mammalogy
DatePublished - 7 Jul 2015
Issue number4
Volume96
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)854-865
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The Mediterranean basin is a biodiversity hotspot which is being threatened by land abandonment and afforestation, most notably with eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp.) plantations. We assessed the impact of eucalyptus plantations on niche partitioning in a carnivore community consisting of red fox (Vulpes vulpes), badger (Meles meles), and stone marten (Martes foina). Based on data from camera trapping, we evaluated the influence of eucalyptus plantations on species occupancy and detection in single-species and co-occurrence models and on temporal activity. Eucalyptus cover negatively influenced detection probability across all species in both single and co-occurrence models. Stone marten detection decreased with the presence of the other carnivores but red fox detection increased in the presence of badgers. Eucalyptus plantations had a negative effect on occupancy of red foxes, which preferred open farmland and evergreen oak forest. Stone marten preferred large patches of oak forest, whereas badger occupancy was positively influenced by patch richness. Occupancy of any one species was not influenced by the presence of any other species. Despite having an effect on the detection and occupancy of all 3 carnivores, eucalyptus plantations had no effect on the interactions within this carnivore community. However, these results have to be interpreted with precaution since the probability of detection for badger and stone marten, in 2011, was below 0.15, making it difficult to make accurate assumptions. The results show the relatively greater importance of habitat preferences compared with interspecific relationships in determining distribution of these carnivores and highlight the importance of using models that can correct for differences in detectability for inferring interspecific competition, especially when species occur at low densities.

    Research areas

  • badger, camera trapping, eucalyptus, niche partitioning, red fox, stone marten

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