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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Carnivore guild utilization of hunter-provided food sources in boreal forest

Wikenros, Camilla; Nordli, Kristoffer; Amato, Giulia; Persson, Jens; Ausilio, Giorgia; Versluijs, Erik; Eriksen, Ane; Wabakken, Petter; Aronsson, Malin


Scavenging is an alternative foraging strategy to predation for many carnivore species, as they shift between predation and scavenging in response to changes in resource availability. The use of carrion may lead to interspecific competition and is thus influenced by a risk-reward trade-off to balance coexistence with guild-members, where smaller species are expected to be more vigilant due to their vulnerability to larger competitors. We used cameras to investigate the utilization of viscera from the annual moose Alces alces hunt by four sympatric carnivore species: wolf Canis lupus, wolverine Gulo gulo, red fox Vulpes vulpes and pine marten Martes martes in south-central Scandinavia, in relation to body size and habitat. Red foxes had highest probability of visiting viscera sites in both open and forested habitats. Visits by both red foxes and pine martens were longer in open habitats, while number of visits or activity did not differ between habitats. For pine martens, the probability of visiting viscera sites was twice as high in forest compared to open habitat; consequently, red foxes showed the highest overall use of viscera. Red foxes were most vigilant, especially in open habitat, whereas wolverines and pine martens spent a higher proportion of time feeding. Increased vigilance of red foxes facilitates extended resources use in open habitat, while for pine martens, the risk-reward decision occurs before leaving forest cover and entering open habitats. Viscera were not used to a large extent by wolves or wolverines. Wolves are generally less prone to scavenging and wolverines probably use other food resources, more suitable for caching. Overall, competition did not prevent use of viscera, probably due to small-scale temporal segregation and limited use by the larger carnivores. Consequently, this pulse of human-subsidized food resources before winter may have important implications for the smaller facultative scavengers.Keywords: carrion use, interspecific competition, pine marten, red fox, wolf, wolverine


carrion use; interspecific competition; pine marten; red fox; wolf; wolverine

Published in

Wildlife Biology
Publisher: WILEY