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Bottom-up rather than top-down mechanisms determine mesocarnivore interactions in Norway
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  • Rocío Cano-Martínez,
  • Neri Thorsen,
  • Tim Hofmeester,
  • John Odden,
  • John Linnell,
  • Olivier Devineau,
  • Siow Yan Jennifer Angoh,
  • Morten Odden
Rocío Cano-Martínez
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences - Evenstad Campus

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Neri Thorsen
Norwegian Institute for Nature Research Oslo
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Tim Hofmeester
Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet Fakulteten for Skogsvetenskap
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John Odden
Norwegian Institute for Nature Research Oslo
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John Linnell
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences - Evenstad Campus
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Olivier Devineau
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences - Evenstad Campus
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Siow Yan Jennifer Angoh
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences - Evenstad Campus
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Morten Odden
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences - Evenstad Campus
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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) are 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 are influenced by season. We analyzed three years (2018-2020) of camera trapping data from Norway and used structural equation models to assess hypothesized networks of causal relationships. Our results show that land cover variables are stronger predictors of mesocarnivore activity 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, all mesocarnivores showed positive interactions 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.
16 Oct 2023Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
17 Oct 2023Assigned to Editor
17 Oct 2023Submission Checks Completed
19 Oct 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
20 Nov 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending