From global to local: impacts of human disturbance on niche partitioning among carnivores

Sévêque, A. ORCID: 0000-0003-4363-4137, 2021. From global to local: impacts of human disturbance on niche partitioning among carnivores. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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Interspecific competition and resource partitioning are strong evolutionary forces, shaping communities. The mechanisms of coexistence and competition among species have been a central topic within community ecology, with a particular focus on mammalian carnivore community research. However, the influence of humans and their activities on those processes is still poorly understood. This thesis first reviews the existing literature on spatial, temporal, and trophic niche partitioning in carnivore communities. After extracting any reported effects of human disturbance, a theoretical framework is proposed, covering the three main outcomes of the impact of humans on resource partitioning, intraguild competition and community structure. Then, generalized linear mixed models are employed to evaluate the relative influence of a range of human, meteorological and ecological variables on the coefficients of temporal overlap within carnivore communities on a global scale, using data extracted from the existing literature. Findings show that the regulation of activity pattern is subject to strong site-specificity, and that temporal avoidance of both humans and competitors may be regulated by short, reactive responses, rather than long-term changes in behaviour. In addition, the methodology and reasoning employed by the currently available literature to calculate the coefficient of temporal overlap between pairs of species are evaluated. Key guidelines and recommendations are provided to future studies to develop an improved and standardised research practice on the study of animal activity pattern and temporal partitioning. Finally, multispecies occupancy models are used on secondary raw camera trap data to explore the fine-scale patterns of co-occurrence between red foxes and domestic cats within a rural–urban gradient in England, in relation to anthropogenic features in the landscape. This thesis fills an important knowledge gap on the effects of human pressures on carnivore communities, by focusing on the impacts on niche partitioning and coexistence. The research questions are addressed through an innovative gradient of spatial scales, human disturbance types, ecosystems and carnivore communities, thus yielding findings of global value. This study presents evidence that the disturbance humans impose on carnivores is reflected on their behaviour, which can modify interspecific interactions within the carnivore communities, and have cascading effects on community structure and ecosystem functioning.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Sévêque, A.
Date: April 2021
Rights: This work is the intellectual property of the author. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed in the owner(s) of the Intellectual Property Rights.
Divisions: Schools > School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 29 Oct 2021 12:51
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2021 12:51

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