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Coexistence between sympatric carnivores in a Mediterranean habitat

One of the main objectives of community ecology is to understand the conditions allowing species to coexist. However, few studies have investigated the role of fine-scale habitat use segregation in the functioning of guild communities in relatively homogeneous landscapes where opportunities for coexistence are likely to be the most restrictive. Authors investigate how the process of habitat use differentiation at the home range level according to the degree of specialism/generalism of species can lead to coexistence between guild species. Differences in fine-scale habitat use and niche separation are examined as potential mechanisms explaining the coexistence of five sympatric carnivore species that differ in life history traits (Iberian lynx, Eurasian badger, Egyptian mongoose, common genet and red fox) by collecting data from systematic track censuses in a relatively homogeneous Mediterranean landscape. Results show that a higher degree of specialism determines the segregation of species among the fine-scale ecological niche dimensions defined using quantitative elements associated with vegetation, landscape, prey availability and human disturbance. The study indicates that in relatively homogeneous landscapes, there exist subtle patterns of habitat partitioning over small-scale gradients of habitat determinants as a function of the degree of specialism of carnivore species within a guild. Results also suggest that coexistence between generalist species may be permitted by fine-scale spatial–temporal segregation of activity patterns or trophic resource consumption, but not fine-scale habitat use differentiation. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es Soto and Palomares (2015) Coexistence of sympatric carnivores in relatively homogeneous Mediterranean landscapes: functional importance of habitat segregation at the fine-scale level. Oecologia. Doi: 10.1007/s00442-015-3311-9


http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00442-015-3311-9
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