Shift in microhabitat use as a mechanism allowing the coexistence of victim and killer carnivore predators


It has been suggested that spatial heterogeneity is key to the coexistence at local spatial scales of subordinate and dominant predator species by allowing the former to shift to more protective habitats when the risk of intraguild predation exists. Here, we show how the smaller carnivore Egyptian mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon) may coexist on a local scale with its intraguild pre- dator, the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus), by using places with different microhabitat character- istics. We expect that mongooses living within lynx home ranges will use denser and more protective habitats when active in order to di- minish their risk of being killed by lynx com- pared to those living in areas similar in vege- tation and prey availability but where lynx are absent. The scrubland cover of points used by mongooses outside lynx areas, and that of points located within lynx areas but not used by mongooses, were significantly lower than, or similar to, cover of points used by mongooses within lynx areas. The probability of finding mon- goose tracks was constant across levels of scrubland cover when lynx were absent, but more mongoose tracks were likely to be found in thicker scrubland within lynx areas, especially if these areas were intensively used by lynx. This result agrees with the hypothesis on shifts in microhabitat use of subordinate carnivores to prevent fatal or risky encounters with dominant ones.

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Viota, M. , Rodríguez, A. , López-Bao, J. and Palomares, F. (2012) Shift in microhabitat use as a mechanism allowing the coexistence of victim and killer carnivore predators. Open Journal of Ecology, 2, 115-120. doi: 10.4236/oje.2012.23014.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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