Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Mesocarnivore distribution along gradients of anthropogenic disturbance in Mediterranean landscapes

Version 1 : Received: 29 January 2022 / Approved: 7 February 2022 / Online: 7 February 2022 (15:10:29 CET)

How to cite: Torre, I.; Pulido, T.; Vilella, M.; Díaz, M. Mesocarnivore distribution along gradients of anthropogenic disturbance in Mediterranean landscapes. Preprints 2022, 2022020092 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202202.0092.v1). Torre, I.; Pulido, T.; Vilella, M.; Díaz, M. Mesocarnivore distribution along gradients of anthropogenic disturbance in Mediterranean landscapes. Preprints 2022, 2022020092 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202202.0092.v1).

Abstract

Wildfires are important sources of landscape change in Mediterranean environments, creating large patches of natural habitats (i.e., scrublands) inside protected areas, whereas woodland patches remained at the border in the vicinity of human settlements. Landscape patterns resulting from these gradients influence habitat suitability for mesocarnivores regarding food and shelter. In winter and summer 2019, we sampled 16 independent line-transects of four camera traps each (for a total of 64 cameras), covering the main habitats of the study area (woodlands, scrublands, and crops). Cameras were baited to compensate for low detectability of target species, and mesocarnivore contacts were analyzed by means of GLMMs and occupancy models. We hypothesized that Mediterranean mesocarnivores were constrained by two opposing forces, pushing them living in semi-natural but highly fragmented and heterogeneous landscapes created by humans, or living in natural but less suitable and continuous habitats created by fire regimes. In the former case, mesocarnivores will find protection against predators and resting sites in forests, as well as improved food opportunities in crops and urban areas, despite the possible interference with humans and their pets. Potential cascading effects linked to ecological roles of Mediterranean mesocarnivores on the succession of Mediterranean landscapes would imply longer-term effects of human disturbance on landscape trends.

Keywords

Carnivores; Habitat suitability; Landscape gradients; Scrublands; Woodlands; Wildfires.

Subject

BIOLOGY, Ecology

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