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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Intraguild Predation by the Eagle Owl Determines the Space Use of a Mesopredator Carnivore

Virgos, Emilio; Baniandres, Noemi; Burgos, Tamara; Recio, Mariano R.


Top predators shape the communities of sympatric predators by killing and displacing smaller predators. Predation risk pushes smaller predators to select enemy-free spaces irrespective of food availability, which results in changes in their behaviour, space use, distribution, and abundance. Although the landscape of fear dynamics are known for top predators such as the eagle owl and its impact on smaller raptors, the effect of the presence and abundance of the eagle owl on the space use of mesopredator carnivores remains poorly understood. Here, we studied this effect on the space use of the stone marten in a Mediterranean ecosystem where it shares rabbits as main prey with the eagle owl. We also accounted for the presence of another sympatric carnivore, the red fox. Using a multi-model inference, we found stone martens avoided areas with a higher abundance of eagle owls and rabbits, which suggested a hyperpredation process and a cognitive association by stone martens between rabbit hotspots and owl presence. We found a positive relationship between the space use of the red fox and the stone marten, which suggested foxes behaved as competitors and not predators of martens. Understanding intraguild predation can assist the conservation and management of predators and their prey.


eagle owl; enemy-free space; hyperpredation; landscape of fear; rabbit; red fox; stone marten

Published in

2020, Volume: 12, number: 9, article number: 359
Publisher: MDPI

      SLU Authors

    • Rodriguez Recio, Mariano

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