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Title: Spatial and temporal structure of a mesocarnivore guild in midwestern north America

Author: Lesmeister, Damon B.; Nielsen, Clayton K.; Schauber, Eric M.; Hellgren, Eric C.;

Date: 2015

Source: Wildlife Monographs

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Carnivore guilds play a vital role in ecological communities by cascading trophic effects, energy and nutrient transfer, and stabilizing or destabilizing food webs. Consequently, the structure of carnivore guilds can be critical to ecosystem patterns. Body size is a crucial influence on intraguild interactions, because it affects access to prey resources, effectiveness in scramble competition, and vulnerability to intraguild predation. Coyotes (Canis latrans), bobcats (Lynx rufus), gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), raccoons (Procyon lotor), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), and striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) occur sympatrically throughout much of North America and overlap in resource use, indicating potential for interspecific interactions. Although much is known about the autecology of the individual species separately, little is known about factors that facilitate coexistence and how interactions within this guild influence distribution, habitat use, and temporal activity of the smaller carnivores. To assess how habitat autecology and interspecific interactions affect the structure of this widespread carnivore guild, we conducted a large-scale, non-invasive carnivore survey using an occupancy modeling framework. We deployed remote cameras during 3-week surveys to detect carnivores at 1,118 camera locations in 357 2.6-km2 sections (3–4 cameras/section composing a cluster) in the 16 southernmost counties of Illinois (16,058 km2) during January–April, 2008–2010. We characterized microhabitat at each camera location and landscape-level habitat features for each camera cluster. In a multistage approach, we used information-theoretic methods to evaluate competing models for detection, species-specific habitat occupancy, multispecies co-occupancy, and multiseason (colonization and extinction) occupancy dynamics. We developed occupancy models for each species to represent hypothesized effects of anthropogenic features, prey availability, landscape complexity, and vegetative land cover.

Keywords: activity, bobcat (Lynx rufus), carnivore guild structure, central hardwoods, co-occupancy, coyote (Canis latrans), gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), habitat occupancy, multiscale ecological sorting, raccoon (Procyon lotor), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis).

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Lesmeister, Damon B.; Nielsen, Clayton K.; Schauber, Eric M.; Hellgren, Eric C. 2015. Spatial and temporal structure of a mesocarnivore guild in midwestern north America. Wildlife Monographs, Vol. 191(1): 61 pages.: 1-61.


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