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Title: Differential habitat use or intraguild interactions: What structures a carnivore community?

Author: Gompper, Matthew E.; Lesmeister, Damon B.; Ray, Justina C.; Malcolm, Jay R.; Kays, Roland; Reed, Aaron W.;

Date: 2016

Source: PLOS ONE

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Differential habitat use and intraguild competition are both thought to be important drivers of animal population sizes and distributions. Habitat associations for individual species are well-established, and interactions between particular pairs of species have been highlighted in many focal studies. However, community-wide assessments of the relative strengths of these two factors have not been conducted. We built multi-scale habitat occupancy models for five carnivore taxa of New York’s Adirondack landscape and assessed the relative performance of these models against ones in which co-occurrences of potentially competing carnivore species were also incorporated. Distribution models based on habitat performed well for all species. Black bear (Ursus americanus) and fisher (Martes pennanti) distribution was similar in that occupancy of both species was negatively associated with paved roads. However, black bears were also associated with larger forest fragments and fishers with smaller forest fragments. No models with habitat features were more supported than the null habitat model for raccoons (Procyon lotor). Martens (Martes americana) were most associated with increased terrain ruggedness and elevation. Weasel (Mustela spp.) occupancy increased with the cover of deciduous forest. For most species dyads habitat-only models were more supported than those models with potential competitors incorporated. The exception to this finding was for the smallest carnivore taxa (marten and weasel) where habitat plus coyote abundance models typically performed better than habitat-only models. Assessing this carnivore community as whole, we conclude that differential habitat use is more important than species interactions in maintaining the distribution and structure of this carnivore guild.

Keywords: carnivore, co-occurrence, guild structure, habitat, occupancy

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Gompper, Matthew E.; Lesmeister, Damon B.; Ray, Justina C.; Malcolm, Jay R.; Kays, Roland; Reed, Aaron W. 2016. Differential habitat use or intraguild interactions: What structures a carnivore community? PLOS ONE. 11(1): e0146055-.

 


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