Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Bottom-up rather than top-down mechanisms determine mesocarnivore interactions in Norway

Cano-Martinez, Rocio; Thorsen, Neri Horntvedt; Hofmeester, Tim R.; Odden, John; Linnell, John; Devineau, Olivier; Angoh, Siow Yan Jennifer; Odden, Morten

Abstract

Interactions among coexisting mesocarnivores can be influenced by different factors such as the presence of large carnivores, land-use, environmental productivity, or human disturbance. Disentangling the relative importance of bottom-up and top-down processes can be challenging, but it is important for biodiversity conservation and wildlife management. The aim of this study was to assess how the interactions among mesocarnivores (red fox Vulpes vulpes, badger Meles meles, and pine marten Martes martes) were affected by large carnivores (Eurasian lynx Lynx lynx and wolf Canis lupus), land cover variables (proportion of agricultural land and primary productivity), and human disturbance, as well as how these top-down and bottom-up mechanisms were influenced by season. We analyzed 3 years (2018-2020) of camera trapping observations from Norway and used structural equation models to assess hypothesized networks of causal relationships. Our results showed that land cover variables were more strongly associated with mesocarnivore detection rates than large carnivores in Norway. This might be caused by a combination of low density of large carnivores in an unproductive ecosystem with strong seasonality. Additionally, detection rates of all mesocarnivores showed positive associations among each other, which were stronger in winter. The prevalence of positive interactions among predators might indicate a tendency to use the same areas and resources combined with weak interference competition. Alternatively, it might indicate some kind of facilitative relationship among species. Human disturbance had contrasting effects for different species, benefiting the larger mesocarnivores (red fox and badger) probably through food subsidization, but negatively affecting apex predators (wolf and lynx) and smaller mesocarnivores (pine marten). In a human-dominated world, this highlights the importance of including anthropogenic influences in the study of species interactions.We used 3 years of camera trap data from Norway to assess how the interactions among mesocarnivores (red fox, badger, and pine marten) were affected by large carnivores (Eurasian lynx and wolf), land cover variables, and human disturbance, as well as how these top-down and bottom-up mechanisms were influenced by season. Our results showed that land cover variables were stronger predictors of mesocarnivore activity than large carnivores in Norway. Human disturbance had contrasting effects for large carnivores and mesocarnivores. Humans can influence species through different top-down and bottom-up processes, which highlights the complexity of anthropogenic effects on species interactions.image

Keywords

camera trap; carnivore community; intraguild interactions; Norway; structural equation modeling

Published in

Ecology and Evolution
2024, Volume: 14, number: 3, article number: e11064Publisher: WILEY