Jerrold L. Belant

Mississippi State University, استارکویل، میسیسیپی, Mississippi, United States

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Publications (156)242.01 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Factors relevant to resource selection in carnivores may vary across spatial and temporal scales, both in magnitude and rank. Understanding relationships among carnivore occupancy, prey presence, and habitat characteristics, as well as their interactions across multiple scales, is necessary to improve our understanding of resource selection and predict population changes. We used a multi-scale dynamic hierarchical co-occurrence model with camera data to study bobcat and snowshoe hare occupancy in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan during winter 2012-2013. Bobcat presence was influenced at the local scale by snowshoe hare presence, and by road density at the local and larger scale when hare were absent. Hare distribution was related primarily to vegetation cover types, and detectability varied in space and time. Bobcat occupancy dynamics were influenced by different factors depending on the spatial scale considered and the resource availability context. Moreover, considering observed co-occurrence, we suggest that bobcat presence had a greater effect on hare occupancy than hare presence on bobcat occupancy. Our results highlight the importance of studying carnivore distributions in the context of predator-prey relationships and its interactions with environmental covariates at multiple spatial scales. Our approach can be applied to other carnivore species to provide insights beneficial for management and conservation.
    PLoS ONE 11/2015; 10(11):e0143347. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0143347 · 3.23 Impact Factor

  • Polar Biology 11/2015; DOI:10.1007/s00300-015-1819-4 · 1.59 Impact Factor

  • PLoS ONE 11/2015; 10(11):e0141489. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0141489 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Female ungulate reproductive success is dependent on the survival of their young, and affected by maternal resource selection, predator avoidance, and nutritional condition. However, potential hierarchical effects of these factors on reproductive success are largely unknown, especially in multi-predator landscapes. We expanded on previous research of neonatal white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) daily survival within home ranges to assess if resource use, integrated risk of 4 mammalian predators, maternal nutrition, winter severity, hiding cover, or interactions among these variables best explained landscape scale variation in daily or seasonal survival during the post-partum period. We hypothesized that reproductive success would be limited greater by predation risk at coarser spatiotemporal scales, but habitat use at finer scales. An additive model of daily non-ideal resource use and maternal nutrition explained the most (69%) variation in survival; though 65% of this variation was related to maternal nutrition. Strong support of maternal nutrition across spatiotemporal scales did not fully support our hypothesis, but suggested reproductive success was related to dam behaviors directed at increasing nutritional condition. These behaviors were especially important following severe winters, when dams produced smaller fawns with less probability of survival. To increase nutritional condition and decrease wolf (Canis lupus) predation risk, dams appeared to place fawns in isolated deciduous forest patches near roads. However, this resource selection represented non-ideal resources for fawns, which had greater predation risk that led to additive mortalities beyond those related to resources alone. Although the reproductive strategy of dams resulted in greater predation of fawns from alternative predators, it likely improved the life-long reproductive success of dams, as many were late-aged (>10 years old) and could have produced multiple litters of fawns. Our study emphasizes understanding the scale-dependent hierarchy of factors limiting reproductive success is essential to providing reliable knowledge for ungulate management.
    PLoS ONE 10/2015; 10(10):e0140433. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0140433 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Dominance is a behavioural mechanism that allows individuals to access and monopolize resources which should ultimately improve their fitness. Hierarchy strength should be strongest when resources are limited; however, this relationship is not consistent. We provided abundant food to assess whether hierarchy strength was consistent with resource abundance using 9 groups of captive female white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). We further assessed how body mass, age and testosterone levels were associated with rank position. Deer displayed a weak hierarchy with a mean linearity (h) of 0.39 (SD = 0.09) and a mean directional consistency index of 0.83 (SD = 0.06). Rank was related to body mass (p = 0.004, slope = 0.011), but not age or testosterone levels (p 0.163). We demonstrate that hierarchy strength was weak in the presence of abundant food resources and suggest the possibility that dominance is a plastic behaviour that may vary with resource abundance.
    Behaviour 10/2015; DOI:10.1163/1568539X-00003323 · 1.23 Impact Factor
  • M. G. Gantchoff · J. L. Belant ·
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    ABSTRACT: We analysed coexistence patterns between two mesocarnivores, Geoffroy's cat (Leopardus geoffroyi: Felidae) and culpeo fox (Pseudalopex culpaeus: Canidae), in northern Patagonia, Argentina. We examined spatial distribution influenced by land cover, anthropogenic disturbance and invasive hare presence, and analysed temporal activity patterns and dietary composition. If competitive exclusion accounts for carnivore coexistence in this system, we predicted segregation would occur in one or more of these aspects as a mechanism for coexistence. We performed camera trapping in Nahuel Huapi National Park, from February to May 2012 and January to April 2013. Using camera detections, we analysed spatial patterns with co-occupancy modelling and temporal patterns by fitting kernel density estimates and measuring overlap. We performed a dietary meta-analysis using available literature and performed a discriminant function analysis of diet categories between species. We observed high spatial and temporal overlap between Geoffroy's cats and culpeo foxes. We found no evidence of segregation in relation to land cover occupancy, anthropogenic disturbance, invasive hare occurrence or activity patterns. Though both species consumed predominantly small and medium mammals, Geoffroy's cats consumed more birds, reptiles and amphibians, and culpeo foxes consumed more large mammals, carrion and plant material; coexistence between these two carnivores in this Patagonian protected area appears to be facilitated by diet segregation.
    Austral Ecology 09/2015; DOI:10.1111/aec.12303 · 1.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Maternal care influences offspring quality and can improve a mother's inclusive fitness. However, improved fitness may only occur when offspring quality (i.e., offspring birth mass) persists throughout life and enhances survival and/or reproductive success. Although maternal body mass, age, and social rank have been shown to influence offspring birth mass, the interdependence among these variables makes identifying causation problematic. We established that fawn birth mass was related to adult body mass for captive male and female white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), thus maternal care should improve offspring fitness. We then used path analysis to identify which maternal characteristic(s) most influenced fawn birth mass of captive female white-tailed deer. Maternal age, body mass and social rank had varying effects on fawn birth mass. Maternal body mass displayed the strongest direct effect on fawn birth mass, followed by maternal age and social rank. Maternal body mass had a greater effect on social rank than age. The direct path between social rank and fawn birth mass may indicate dominance as an underlying mechanism. Our results suggest that heavier mothers could use dominance to improve access to resources, resulting in increased fitness through production of heavier offspring.
    PLoS ONE 08/2015; 10(e0136034). DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0136034 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The trade-off between predator avoidance and foraging is a key decision making factor that shapes an organism's adaptive behaviour and movement patterns. Human hunters act as top predators to influence the behaviour of free-ranging mammals, including large carnivorous species such as black bears (Ursus americanus). Analysing the effects of hunting on animal behavioural patterns is essential for understanding the extent to which animals detect and respond to human-induced disturbances. To this end, we assessed whether black bear movement behaviour changed with varying risk from spatially and temporally heterogeneous human predation. Levels of risk were categorized as either low (disturbance from dog training; n=19 bears) or high (disturbance from hunting activities; n=11 bears). Road types were either paved (risk due to vehicles) or non-paved (risk due to hunters) and were used as proxies for hunting effort and amount of disturbance. We began by testing the null hypothesis that bears' distribution before the onset of human disturbance is spatially random. Next, to test temporal movement adjustment between the low and high risk levels, we measured the distance to the nearest road and the road crossing frequency using mixed effects models with risk level, time of day and sex as predictor variables. As disturbance near non-paved roads increased due to the start of the hunting activity, the mean distances of bears to non-paved roads increased while the mean distances of bears to paved roads decreased, despite the continual risk of vehicle collision. These behavioural responses were observed during day and night, with the frequency of crossing paved roads at night five times greater than in daytime during the hunting season. Our findings demonstrate that black bears are able to detect risky places and adjust their spatial movements accordingly. More specifically, bears can perceive changes in the level of risk from human hunting activities on a fine temporal scale.
    Behavioural processes 08/2015; 120. DOI:10.1016/j.beproc.2015.08.003 · 1.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ocelots Leopardus pardalis (Linnaeus, 1758) are one of the most common fe-lids in the Neotropics and in the absence of large carnivores, can function as apex predators. Despite occupying numerous habitats across its range, including human-dominated landscapes, there is limited information on how ocelots use fragmented landscapes. We radio-tracked a female ocelot in a fragmented landscape of the Caribbean region of Colombia from November 2010 to January 2011 to estimate home range and habitat use. We obtained 100 locations overall; home range size was 9.64 km 2 using the 95% fixed kernel density estimate. Rivers and roads were the main variables related with the locations and the ocelot selected for natural forests but also used disturbed habitats. Home range size and habitat use was similar to previous studies, but we observed greater use of disturbed habitats. As ocelots become the top predators in many fragmented landscapes of the Neotropics, it is important to understand how they use landscapes and could serve as surrogates for conservation.
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    ABSTRACT: Balancing the ecological importance of large carnivores with human tolerances across multiple‐use landscapes presents a complex and often controversial management scenario. Increasing cougar (Puma concolor) populations in the western United States, coupled with an increasing human population and distribution, may contribute to increased numbers of interactions and conflicts (e.g., livestock depredation) with cougars. We assessed county‐level factors associated with mortalities of cougars of different sexes and ages resulting from livestock conflicts in Oregon during 1990–2009. Factors included cougar population density, human population density, proportion of the cougar population that were juvenile males, cougar harvest, prey availability, habitat conditions, and climate measured at the county level. We used generalized linear mixed models and quasi‐likelihood Akaike's Information Criterion (QAIC) to rank models. Two of 26 models were competitive (ΔQAIC ∑w = 0.72) and both contained cougar population density and cougar harvest density; the second‐best model also included proportion of juvenile males in the population. From model‐averaging, we determined cougar mortalities associated with livestock conflicts increased with increasing cougar population density (95% CL = 0.48–1.37) and decreased with increasing cougar harvest density (95% CL = −0.58 to −0.02). An exploratory model including cougar population density, cougar harvest density, proportion of juvenile male cougars, beef cattle density, relative deer density, and all pairwise interactions was equal to the QAIC‐top model from the previous set of 26 models. Under a scenario of a high proportion (0.40) of juvenile males, number of cougar mortalities related to livestock conflicts increased 219% when cougar population density increased from 300/10,000 km2 to 400/10,000 km2. In contrast, the number of cougar mortalities decreased with increasing harvest when cougar population densities were high (500/10,000 km2), but we found no relationship at lower cougar population densities. As beef cattle densities increased, the number of cougar mortalities increased substantially (low deer populations), remained relatively low and constant (average deer population), and decreased (high deer populations). Where landowner tolerance to cougar‐livestock conflicts is an issue, wildlife managers may provide expertise to reduce conflicts by increasing density of wild ungulate prey, increasing hunter‐harvest, and reducing vulnerability of livestock, depending on factors that may be contributing to conflicts. © 2015 The Wildlife Society.
    Journal of Wildlife Management 08/2015; 79(6):978-988. DOI:10.1002/jwmg.913 · 1.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Understanding species distributions and population responses to environmental parameters is important for addressing landscape-level species conservation. We assessed American black bear (Ursus americanus) resource selection based on spatial distribution of a recolonizing population in Mississippi, USA. Given the philopatric behavior of female bears and the risk-disturbance hypothesis, we predicted that bears recolonizing Mississippi would occupy areas close to their source population but avoid areas near roads and with greater human population density. Using location data from radio-collared black bears, landscape metrics, and spatial autoregressive modeling, we estimated annual population-level space use. Our results confirm that black bears recolonizing Mississippi occupy habitats proximate to source populations and avoid areas near roads as probability of bear use was greater in areas closer to source breeding populations and areas farther from roads. Land cover type, elevation, and human density did not influence black bear occurrence at the spatial resolution examined. The lack of avoidance to areas inhabited by humans was likely a consequence of overall low human density, legal protection afforded this species, and that proximity to source population likely has a greater effect on recolonization than avoidance of humans.
    European Journal of Wildlife Research 06/2015; 61(4). DOI:10.1007/s10344-015-0933-5 · 1.63 Impact Factor
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    Alexander R. Crain · Jerrold L. Belant · Travis L. DeVault ·
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    ABSTRACT: Wildlife incidents with aircraft are of concern in the United States as they pose a risk to human safety and economic losses for the aviation industry. Most previous research on wildlife-aircraft incidents has emphasized birds, bats, and ungulates. We queried the Federal Aviation Administration’s National Wildlife Strike Database from 1990 to 2012 to characterize carnivore incidents with U.S. civil aircraft. We found 1016 carnivore incidents with aircraft representing at least 16 species, with coyotes (n = 404) being the species most frequently struck. California and Texas had the most reported incidents and incidents were most likely to occur at night from August to November. Overall estimated damage to aircraft was US$ 7 million. Coinciding with the increase in air traffic, the rate of carnivore-aircraft incidents increased 13.1% annually from 1990 to 2012 whereas the rate of damaging incidents remained fairly constant. Due to the increase in carnivore-aircraft incidents from 1990 to 2012, we recommend further research on techniques to increase detection of carnivores and implementation and scheduled maintenance of perimeter high fences for exclusion. Additionally, we recommend increasing patrol of runways, especially during peak incident periods (July–November) and at night (2000–0600 h).
    Transportation Research Part D Transport and Environment 05/2015; 36. DOI:10.1016/j.trd.2014.12.001 · 1.94 Impact Factor
  • Tara J. Conkling · James A. Martin · Jerrold L. Belant · Travis L. DeVault ·

    Transportation Research Record Journal of the Transportation Research Board 05/2015; 2471:19-25. DOI:10.3141/2471-03 · 0.54 Impact Factor
  • Clay M. Wilton · Jerrold L. Belant · Julie F. Van Stappen · David Paetkau ·
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    ABSTRACT: American black bears (Ursus americanus) occur on numerous islands within the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Lake Superior, Wisconsin, USA, and provide an opportunity to better understand patterns in abundance and genetic structure among island populations. In 2002 and 2010, we derived genotypes from DNA obtained from hair samples collected at hair traps to estimate population abundance on Stockton (40.7 km2), Sand (11.9 km2), and Oak (20.6 km2; 2010 only) islands. We used Huggins closed-population mark–recapture models to estimate island-specific abundance and density. We used Program STRUCTURE and parentage analysis to examine inter-island population structure, migration patterns, and relatedness. In 2010, we estimated abundance on Stockton, Sand, and Oak islands to be 13.1 (95% CI = 12.4–13.8), 10.1 (95% CI = 9.3–11.0), and 18.1 (95% CI = 17.3–19.0) bears, with a density of 0.32, 0.85, and 0.88 bears/km2, respectively. Whereas abundance on Sand Island increased 60% since 2002 (N = 6.3, 95% CI = 4.0–8.6), abundance on Stockton declined 50% (N = 26.3, 95% CI = 24.7–27.9), including an 83% decline in detected females. Density on Oak Island was the highest reported in Wisconsin, although we identified 13 individuals as likely mates or offspring of a single male. We identified 4 genetic groups, corresponding to Stockton, Sand, Oak, and Mainland ancestry. No individuals on Stockton or Sand islands were assigned ancestry from another island, whereas one male on Oak Island was assigned Stockton ancestry. We detected individuals of predominately Mainland ancestry on all but Hermit Island, suggesting a high rate of immigration from the mainland. We suggest these islands can support high bear densities, but may undergo rapid shifts in sex-specific abundance. Genetic connectivity appears maintained by male-mediated gene flow, but a small number of wide-ranging females may sustain inter-island population viability.
    Ursus 05/2015; 26(1). DOI:10.2192/URSUS-D-15-00008.1 · 0.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To access a free e-print version of this article, please visit this link: ------------------------------------ Capsule-- Interpretation of nest survival estimates may be improved by incorporating the search method used to locate nests as a covariate. Aims-- To compare annual survival estimates for Dickcissel Spiza americana nests and determine if incorporating search method (structured, opportunistic, or behavioural searches) improved model fit. Methods-- Dickcissel nests were located using structured, opportunistic, or behavioural searches over three years (2011–2013) in Mississippi, USA. Models were used to estimate daily survival rates (DSRs) and to analyse factors influencing nest survival. Results-- DSRs for Dickcissels were best explained by quadratic date, nest age, age found, and year, but incorporating search method improved model fit. Daily survival was 1.51 times greater for nests located using opportunistic search methods relative to structured searches, but was not significantly different between structured and behavioural searches. Conclusions-- Survival estimates varied by search method, specifically between structured searches and opportunistically located nests. This might have arisen because heterogeneity in nest placement or parental behaviour may influence the sample of nests located with a given search method. Researchers may be able to account for this potential source of bias by including search method as a model covariate when using standard survey designs or modelling approaches.
    Bird Study 04/2015; 62(2). DOI:10.1080/00063657.2015.1010140 · 1.11 Impact Factor
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    T. L. Hiller · J. L. Belant ·
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    ABSTRACT: The distribution of animals is influenced by numerous factors including spatial distribution and temporal availability of resources. We tested the spatial resource variability hypothesis (increasing landscape heterogeneity results in increasing amount of space use) and the temporal resource variability hypothesis (temporal variation in resources reduces amount of space use) using location data from radiomarked American black bears Ursus americanus in Missouri and Arkansas, USA. We used 95% utilization distributions (UDs) to define individual seasonal space use and constructed 22 models using covariates that described composition, spatial arrangement and diversity of land cover types (an index of heterogeneity or patchiness); seasonal hard mast production; and seasonal use of land cover to test our hypotheses using linear modeling and small-sample Akaike information criterion (AICc) model selection approaches. The AICc best performing model supported the spatial resource variability hypothesis and included Shannon diversity index [95% confidence limit (CL) of coefficient = 1.56–2.42] and sex (male; 95% CL of coefficient = 0.05–0.49) as covariates that explained variation in transformed values of UD size. Predicted and observed values during model evaluation were highly correlated (r = 0.90). As land cover heterogeneity increased, UD size increased, likely a consequence of bears responding to greater patchiness to maintain sufficient resources. Further, the Shannon diversity index was greater for males than females , suggesting larger bodied males used larger areas to meet their higher energetic costs due to landscape fragmentation. Studies of resource hypotheses in solitary species should consider intraspecific allometric relationships such as sexual size dimorphism as has been addressed using group size in social species.
    Journal of Zoology 04/2015; 296:200-207. DOI:10.1111/jzo.12234 · 1.88 Impact Factor
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    Paula A White · Jerrold L Belant ·
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    ABSTRACT: Sport hunting has reportedly multiple benefits to economies and local communities; however, few of these benefits have been quantified. As part of their lease agreements with the Zambia Wildlife Authority, sport hunting operators in Zambia are required to provide annually to local communities free of charge i.e., provision a percentage of the meat obtained through sport hunting. We characterized provisioning of game meat to rural communities by the sport hunting industry in Zambia for three game management areas (GMAs) during 2004-2011. Rural communities located within GMAs where sport hunting occurred received on average > 6,000 kgs per GMA of fresh game meat annually from hunting operators. To assess hunting industry compliance, we also compared the amount of meat expected as per the lease agreements versus observed amounts of meat provisioned from three GMAs during 2007-2009. In seven of eight annual comparisons of these GMAs, provisioning of meat exceeded what was required in the lease agreements. Provisioning occurred throughout the hunting season and peaked during the end of the dry season (September-October) coincident with when rural Zambians are most likely to encounter food shortages. We extrapolated our results across all GMAs and estimated 129,771 kgs of fresh game meat provisioned annually by the sport hunting industry to rural communities in Zambia at an approximate value for the meat alone of >US$600,000 exclusive of distribution costs. During the hunting moratorium (2013-2014), this supply of meat has halted, likely adversely affecting rural communities previously reliant on this food source. Proposed alternatives to sport hunting should consider protein provisioning in addition to other benefits (e.g., employment, community pledges, anti-poaching funds) that rural Zambian communities receive from the sport hunting industry.
    PLoS ONE 02/2015; 10(2):e0117237. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0117237 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Responses of biodiversity to changes in both land cover and climate are recognized [ 1 ] but still poorly understood [ 2 ]. This poses significant challenges for spatial planning as species could shift, contract, expand, or maintain their range inside or outside protected areas [ 2–4 ]. We examine this problem in Borneo, a global biodiversity hotspot [ 5 ], using spatial prioritization analyses that maximize species conservation under multiple environmental-change forecasts. Climate projections indicate that 11%–36% of Bornean mammal species will lose ≥30% of their habitat by 2080, and suitable ecological conditions will shift upslope for 23%–46%. Deforestation exacerbates this process, increasing the proportion of species facing comparable habitat loss to 30%–49%, a 2-fold increase on historical trends. Accommodating these distributional changes will require conserving land outside existing protected areas, but this may be less than anticipated from models incorporating deforestation alone because some species will colonize high-elevation reserves. Our results demonstrate the increasing importance of upland reserves and that relatively small additions (16,000–28,000 km2) to the current conservation estate could provide substantial benefits to biodiversity facing changes to land cover and climate. On Borneo, much of this land is under forestry jurisdiction, warranting targeted conservation partnerships to safeguard biodiversity in an era of global change.
    Current Biology 02/2015; 25(3):372–378. DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2014.11.067 · 9.57 Impact Factor
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    Matthew E Gompper · Jerrold L Belant · Roland Kays ·

    Science 01/2015; 347(6220):382-3. DOI:10.1126/science.347.6220.382-b · 33.61 Impact Factor
  • Mariela Gisele Gantchoff · Jerrold L. Belant ·
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    ABSTRACT: Anthropogenic disturbance is an important factor influencing biological invasions. The European hare (Lepus europaeus) and wild boar (Sus scrofa) are invasive species known to cause substantial environmental damage, and were introduced to Argentina during the early 1900s. We compared the relative importance of anthropogenic and environmental factors in hare and boar occurrence in Nahuel Huapi National Park, Argentina, and assessed the hypothesis that invasion can occur regardless of anthropogenic disturbance. Also, we assessed whether hare and boar occupancy offered support for the disturbance hypothesis, which states that invasive species are facilitated by anthropogenic disturbance. We deployed 80 cameras from February to May 2012 and January to April 2013 and at each site measured three environmental (land cover, horizontal cover, and percentage herbaceous vegetation) and three anthropogenic (distance to nearest human settlement, distance to nearest road, and average daily number of people) variables. We used likelihood-based occupancy modeling to estimate site occurrence and detectability. We obtained 480 independent detections of hares and 134 of boars in 1680 camera days. Environmental factors had a greater effect on hare occupancy than anthropogenic disturbances, and hare occupancy was greater in more open areas and closer to human settlements, supporting both hypotheses. Boar occurrence was equally influenced by anthropogenic and environmental factors, and offered mixed support for both hypotheses; boars were present only in humid land covers, and occupancy was lesser closer to settlements but greater closer to roads. Species responses to anthropogenic and environmental factors can vary based on life history traits and role in human society. Identifying the effect of environmental factors and human disturbances on species is fundamental for allocating limited resources in management and conservation.
    Mammalian Biology - Zeitschrift fur Saugetierkunde 01/2015; 80(1):54-58. DOI:10.1016/j.mambio.2014.10.001 · 1.48 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

930 Citations
242.01 Total Impact Points


  • 2008-2015
    • Mississippi State University
      • • Forest & Wildlife Research Center
      • • Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture
      استارکویل، میسیسیپی, Mississippi, United States
  • 2007
    • National Park Service
      Washington, Washington, D.C., United States
  • 2002-2007
    • University of Alaska Fairbanks
      • Institute of Arctic Biology
      Fairbanks, Alaska, United States
  • 1997
    • Ohio Department of Agriculture
      Reynoldsburg, Ohio, United States