Article

Predation by small mammalian carnivores in rural agro-ecosystems: An undervalued ecosystem service?

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Africa is endowed with a diverse guild of small carnivores, which could benefit stakeholders by providing ecosystem services while fostering conservation tolerance for carnivores. To investigate the potential of small carnivores for the biological control of rodents within agro-ecosystems, we assessed both the eco- logical and social landscapes within two rural villages in the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve, South Africa. We employed a camera trapping survey underpinned by an occupancy modelling framework to distinguish between ecological and observation processes affecting small carnivore occupancy. We also used ques- tionnaires to investigate perceptions of small carnivores and their role in pest control. We found the greatest diversity of small carnivores in land used for cropping in comparison to grazing or settlements. Probability of use by small carnivores was influenced negatively by the relative abundance of domestic dogs and positively by the relative abundance of livestock. Greater carnivore diversity and probability of use could be mediated through habitat heterogeneity, food abundance, or reduced competition from domestic carnivores. Village residents failed to appreciate the role of small carnivores in rodent control. Our results suggest that there is significant, although undervalued, potential for small carnivores to pro- vide ecosystem services in agro-ecosystems.
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... In the accompanying data repository hosted on Figshare (doi 10.6084/ m9.figshare.4750807, (Williams et al., 2017b) [2]) we provide raw data, along with processed data and R code used to analyse these data to determine the impact of land use and domestic animals on the species richness and occupancy of small carnivores in rural agro-ecosystems (Williams et al., 2017a) [1]. ...
... & This is a companion article to [1] Value of the data ...
... We provide data collected using camera trap and questionnaire surveys conducted in agro-ecosystems ( Fig. 1). Data collection focussed on small carnivores, defined as members of the order Carnivora with a body mass under 15 kg [1]. A total of nine species of wild small carnivores, and two species of domesticated carnivores, were detected (Table 1), along with domestic cattle (Fig. 2). ...
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This dataset includes data derived from camera trap surveys and questionnaire surveys relating to small carnivores in agro-ecosystems in the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve, South Africa. The data were collected as part of the study “Predation by small mammalian carnivores in rural agro-ecosystems: An undervalued ecosystem service?”[1]. Camera trap locations were stratified by land use: settlement, crops, and grazing areas. The camera trap data provide an insight into the ecology of the nine species of small carnivores that were recorded: striped polecat (Ictonyx striatus), honey badger (Mellivora capensis), large-spotted genet (Genetta maculata), African civet (Civettictis civetta), slender mongoose (Galerella sanguinea), Meller's mongoose (Rhynchogale melleri), Selous' mongoose (Paracynictis selousi), white tailed mongoose (Ichneumia albicauda), and dwarf mongoose (Helogale parvula). We also recorded domesticated animals such as domestic cats (Felis catus), domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris), and cattle (Bos taurus) on the camera traps. The questionnaire data are comprised of responses of stakeholders to questions regarding the impacts of these species on rural farming communities. In the accompanying data repository hosted on Figshare (doi 10.6084/m9.figshare.4750807, [2]) we provide raw data, along with processed data and R code used to analyse these data to determine the impact of land use and domestic animals on the species richness and occupancy of small carnivores in rural agro-ecosystems [1].
... To determine each animal's likelihood of occurring near a camera trap, we used the mean NDVI value from a 500 m buffer surrounding each trap (Carter et al., 2013). We chose 500 m as an approximate middle point for the diversity of home range sizes of the smaller mammals known to occur in this area (Estes, 2012;Williams et al., 2017). ...
... These results partially supported our first and second hypotheses that large mammals and carnivores would be negatively associated with anthropogenic factors, and that overall richness would be highest farther from human activities. Several other studies in East Africa and elsewhere have also documented lower occupancy probabilities and species richness in areas that are permanently settled or have high human densities (Bowkett et al., 2008;Epps et al., 2011;Burton et al., 2012;Carter et al., 2013;Schuette et al., 2013Schuette et al., , 2016Vanthomme et al., 2013;Kiffner et al., 2015;Williams et al., 2017). For example, Kiffner et al. (2015) found that species richness was lower in permanent agricultural sites than in pastoral or protected areas. ...
... At our site, human-wildlife conflict is relatively minimal due to a lack of livestock, and agricultural areas are small. However, if small carnivores are a perceived threat to chickens in these communities, human-wildlife conflict may explain our observed negative relationship between settlement proximity and small carnivore occurrence (Williams et al., 2017). The communities in this concession are also relatively small and concentrated, so we would not expect the effects of cultivation or resource extraction to propagate very far or be more of a habitat disturbance than timber harvest in the area. ...
... African civets are solitary, nocturnal, and terrestrial, but are commonly found near permanent water sources (Skinner & Chimimba, 2005). They are well adapted to live among human settlements (Mateos Ersado et al., 2015), occur in croplands (Williams et al., 2018) and are equally found inside and outside protected areas (Ray, 1995). Despite their wide geographic distribution, little is known about their ecology, behaviour, and conservation biology. ...
... The species is listed as Least Concern by The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Do Linh San et al., 2019) and The Red List of Mammals of South Africa, Swaziland, and Lesotho (Swanepoel et al., 2016). Therefore, it seems to have a low research priority as it actually may benefit from anthropogenic habitat modification, favouring agricultural lands and degraded forests (Ray et al., 2005;Williams et al., 2018). However, African civet populations may be threatened by human-wildlife conflict and commercial exploitation, since it is regularly sold as bushmeat in western and central African markets (Angelici et al., 1999;Bahaa-el-din et al., 2013;Ray, 2013), and kept in captivity for the extraction of African civet musk for the perfume industry (Pugh, 1998;Yilma Delelegn, 2003;Ray et al., 2005). ...
... In comparison with large-spotted African predators (e.g. leopard, Panthera pardus, spotted hyena, Crocuta crocuta, cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus), mesocarnivores have only been the focus of a limited number of cameratrapping studies (Braczkowski et al., 2012;Williams et al., 2018). However, data from camera-trapping studies for large carnivores might offer an opportunity to study lesser-known mesocarnivores. ...
Chapter
The African civet, Civettictis civetta, is the largest member of the Viverridae family and one of the most widely distributed mesocarnivores in Africa. Despite its wide geographic distribution, little is known about its ecology, behaviour, and conservation biology, such as abundance and density. Mesocarnivores can play important roles in ecosystem functioning and these roles may become more important, especially in areas where large carnivores are actively removed (e.g. mesocarnivore release hypothesis). In this study, we use data from a camera-trapping survey originally designed to monitor leopards, Panthera pardus, to report on the density of African civets across different land-use types – two conservation areas (Lapalala, Welgevonden) and one mosaic ‘Farming area’ consisting of hunting, ecotourism, and livestock farms – in the moist mountain bushveld region of the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, South Africa. We fitted spatially explicit capture–recapture (secr) models, with parameter sharing, across the different sites to improve estimates. We found that the study site (and hence land use type) had a significant effect on African civet density, detection probability, and the movement parameter. Density estimates were the highest for Lapalala (8.63 ± 2.30 individuals/100 km2), followed by the Farming area (4.88 ± 1.05 individuals/ 100 km2) while the lowest density was detected on Welgevonden (4.43 ± 1.13 individuals/100 km2). Our results suggest that there are healthy African civet populations within the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, but that land use might play an important role in African civet population demographics. We hypothesize that differences in African civet density might be a result of factors such as top–down regulation from large carnivores, recreational hunting, poisoning, resource provisioning, and human activity. Keywords African civet–camera—trapping–density–spatially explicit capture—recapture models
... In Africa, some predators, nocturnal species, and animals considered dangerous such as owls (order Strigiformes), hyenas (family Hyaenidae), cats (family Felidae), or snakes (suborder Serpentes) are commonly associated with the occult and consequently feared (Niehaus et al. 2001, Cumes 2004. Ironically, in Africa some predator species most heavily persecuted due to associations with witchcraft provide valuable ecosystem services to rural communities such as controlling agricultural pests, disease regulation, and waste disposal (Muñoz-Pedreros et al. 2018, O'Bryan et al. 2018, Williams et al. 2018. ...
... Thus, cultural beliefs about species can act as a barrier to the acceptance of using the pest control ecosystem services offered by these species (Williams et al. 2018). Smallholder agriculture supports the majority of impoverished people in rural areas (World Bank 2007, Tscharntke et al. 2012, but one of the key constraints on food production to smallholder farmers is crop damage caused by pests such as rodents (Swanepoel et al. 2017). ...
... Existing pest control in these areas tends to rely heavily on chemical control, but such practices cause environmental contamination, poisoning of non-target species, and resistance to the products used (Buckle and Smith 2015). To overcome these problems, an alternative approach termed ecologically based rodent management (EBRM) was developed (Singleton et al. 1999), which emphasizes more sustainable pest management solutions such as biological control by native species such as mammalian carnivores (order Carnivora; Williams et al. 2018) or avian predators such as owls (Labuschagne et al. 2016). Environmental education schemes have been successfully applied to increase rates of EBRM adoption, boosting crop yields as a result (Flor and Singleton 2011). ...
Article
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Traditional cultural beliefs influence perceptions of animals and can result in persecution of wildlife. In Africa, stigmas against species associated with witchcraft can act as a barrier to the uptake of sustainable practices such as reducing crop damage through reliance on indigenous predators rather than pesticides to control rodent agricultural pests. One way of enhancing perceptions of wildlife to increase participation in ecologically based rodent management schemes is through environmental education. Low-intensity programs can produce positive attitudinal shifts, but their impact has not been assessed for species strongly associated with witchcraft. We tested whether a presentation on the natural history of owls in the Limpopo Province of South Africa could improve perceptions of these species and increase willingness to participate in the installation of owl boxes to increase owl populations and reduce rodent populations and crop damage. We used a pre- and post-survey to assess the perceptions of owls of 340 learners aged between 12 and 18 in four schools before and after listening to the presentation. Respondents that watched the presentation had more positive perceptions of owls than those that had not watched the presentation and were more willing to put up owl boxes near their home. Despite this shift, negative perceptions of owls still dominated responses due to cultural associations with the occult. These findings indicate that even low-intensity programs can be effective at enhancing perceptions of taboo wildlife. We suggest that environmental education programs featuring culturally taboo species should adopt a culturally sensitive approach to focus on the benefits these species provide.
... Alternatively, species more tolerant of anthropogenic landscapes and activity may use these areas as refuges from their competitors (i.e., the "human shield" hypothesis; Berger, 2007). Resource acquisition, competitor avoidance, and human avoidance or tolerance collectively determine the activity patterns of mesocarnivores, driving spatial and temporal niche partitioning and altering the ecosystem services they provide (Schuette, Wagner, Wagner, & Creel, 2013;Smith, Thomas, Levi, Wang, & Wilmers, 2018;Wang, Allen, & Wilmers, 2015;Williams et al., 2017). ...
... For example, de Satgé et al. (2017) found that striped polecats (Ictonyx striatus) and small-spotted genets (Genetta genetta) avoided their larger competitor, the African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica), but these relationships have not been examined for our study species. Species interactions shape community structure, abundance, and distributions, and may have important cascading effects on ecosystem services and function (Crooks & Soulé, 1999;Schuette et al., 2013;Williams et al., 2017). Understanding intraguild interactions among species in varying environmental conditions (e.g., low competition risk from large carnivores, varying degrees of anthropogenic disturbance) allows conservation managers to better predict the species of mesocarnivores that are most vulnerable to anthropogenic changes, assess the indirect effects on other species in the community, and weigh the risks to wildlife populations while managing landscapes for human and wildlife coexistence (Cardillo et al., 2005;Pettorelli et al., 2010). ...
... We chose 500 m because it is the approximate size of a genet's home range, which is the smallest known home range of our three species (Estes, 2012;Williams et al., 2017). ...
Article
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Mesocarnivores constitute a diverse and often abundant group of species, which are increasingly occupying hweigher trophic levels within multi‐use landscapes. Yet, we know relatively little about their interactions with each other, especially in human‐altered areas. Using camera trap data collected in a forestry concession in the Greater Gorongosa ecosystem of central Mozambique, we examined the spatiotemporal relationships and potential for intraguild competition among three understudied African carnivores: African civets (Civettictis civetta), bushy‐tailed mongooses (Bdeogale crassicauda), and large‐spotted genets (Genetta maculata). After accounting for habitat preferences and tolerance to anthropogenic factors, we found that African civets and bushy‐tailed mongooses avoid each other spatially and temporally. Additionally, civets and mongooses were also both more likely to use sites farther away from human settlements, possibly decreasing the total available habitat for each species if competition is driving this spatial partitioning. In contrast, we did not find evidence for spatial or temporal partitioning between large‐spotted genets and African civets, but bushy‐tailed mongooses altered their activity patterns where they co‐occurred with genets. Our study contributes to scant ecological knowledge of these mesocarnivores and adds to our understanding of community dynamics in human‐altered ecosystems.
... We hypothesized that wildlife occupancy would be influenced by variation in human disturbance (Caro, 1999) and livestock presence (Kinnaird and O'Brien, 2012;Williams et al., 2017), general habitat type, elevation (Karanth et al., 2009) and vegetation (Table 1). We used a soil-adjusted vegetation index that seeks to address some of the limitation of the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) when applied to areas with a high degree of exposed soil surface, like in our study areas (Rondeaux et al., 1996), to measure vegetation greenness. ...
... Some authors have suggested that rangelands might be an optimal habitat for some species that benefit from the routine grazing by sheep (Arsenault and Owen-Smith, 2002). Other research showed that intermediate livestock grazing intensity, as is the case throughout most of the rangeland in our study area (Saayman et al., 2016), could be beneficial to small carnivores such as the bat-eared fox, that feeds on insects (Blaum et al., 2007;Williams et al., 2017). ...
... In addition, the probability of occupancy of omnivores, insectivores and both small-and medium-sized species was unaffected or positively affected by rangeland compared to the PA, results that were also partly found by Rich et al. (2016) and Van der Weyde et al. (2018) in two different areas of Botswana. Small carnivores have been shown to provide ecosystem services in agro-ecosystems (Williams et al., 2017) and it is therefore important that they persist outside of PA. Contrary to the literature for tropical forest and savannah ecosystems (e.g., Harmsen et al., 2010;Cusack et al., 2015), the presence of trails did not have a significant influence on the detection of species in rangeland. ...
... The overexploitation of natural resources has increased human and wildlife conflicts worldwide, posing conservation challenges on several charismatic species. Further, the loss of large areas of ecosystems has reduced several environmental services of which indigenous communities are highly dependent (Redford 1992;Crooks 2002;Brooks et al. 2006;González-Maya et al. 2013;Williams et al. 2018). The consequences due to rampant natural habitat degradation have raised international concerns urging to establish conservation strategies that incorporate local inhabitants involved in programs of sustained use of natural resources and biodiversity conservation (United Nations 2019). ...
... The consequences due to rampant natural habitat degradation have raised international concerns urging to establish conservation strategies that incorporate local inhabitants involved in programs of sustained use of natural resources and biodiversity conservation (United Nations 2019). However, some approaches to conservation were not adequately oriented so as to afford integral protection to biodiversity, it is necessary to include local inhabitants and their relationship with the environment (González-Maya et al. 2013;Williams et al. 2018). ...
Article
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Human and wildlife conflicts pose conservation challenges for several charismatic species worldwide. Given their close and long-standing interactions with wildlife, indigenous communities set an interesting framework to identify factors establishing these relationships. The first step is to account the perceptions and symbolisms of indigenous communities to define and complement conservation efforts. We used multi-temporal and multi-criteria analyses to assess species habitat suitability of the jaguar (Panthera onca), puma (Puma concolor), and coyote (Canis latrans), and quantified the overlap with the Mixtec and Zapotec indigenous territories in Oaxaca, located in southern Mexico. We observed a positive and proactive relationship between indigenous communities' self-identification and a high species habitat suitability for the conservation of these large carnivores in the Sierra Norte, Sierra Sur, Coastal, and Mixtec regions. Given that most of these areas occur outside natural protected areas, the inclusion of indigenous communities in the management of their territory is crucial for preserving their ethnocentric vision and ensuring long-term conservation of these charismatic top predator species and their habitat. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT This study assessed from a spatial ecology perspective, the relationship between indigenous communities and the conservation of large carnivore species. We used a multitemporal and a multicriteria habitat suitability analyses to infer the habitat suitability of the jaguar (Panthera onca), puma (Puma concolor), and coyote (Canis latrans), and its association with two indigenous territories in southern Mexico. The findings showed a high geographic overlap of a positive and proactive relationship between indigenous communities' self-identification and a high species habitat suitability for the conservation of these large carnivores. The inclusion of the indigenous communities in conservation actions is a crucial step to ensure the preservation of their ethnocentric vision, and long-term protections of these charismatic top predator species.
... In turn, the resulting current patterns of private land ownership in agricultural landscapes arise from the ongoing development process in addition to the historic colonial occupation and land reform (Hansen et al., 2005). Greater subdivision of land ownership represents increased anthropogenic pressure for wildlife and their habitat (Theobald et al., 1997), and more households on the landscape often lead to a denser road network (Alamgir et al., 2017), an intensification of human-wildlife conflicts (Mukeka et al., 2019), and increasing threats to native mesocarnivores that include vehicle collisions, poaching, poisoning, and competition with domestic carnivores (Ambarli et al., 2016;Williams et al., 2018). ...
... Mozambique (Easter et al., 2020) and Kenya (Schuette et al., 2013), among others (Williams et al., 2018;Woodroffe, 2000). Land subdivision is a recent and ongoing phenomenon in the study area, with residential area increasing 670.26% from 1983 to 2007 in the region (Petitpas et al., 2016). ...
Article
1. Land use intensification, by which habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, and increased land ownership subdivision occurs, represents one of the largest threats to biodiversity. The extent to which land use intensification affects the presence of native mesocarnivores is largely unexplored, with great implications for all working landscapes where agriculture and native wildlife co‐occur. 2. We obtained mesocarnivore detection/non‐detection data from 180 4‐km2 sampling units in agricultural landscapes of southern Chile from January‐April 2019. We used these data to (1) investigate the associations of private land ownership subdivision, forest fragmentation, and forest loss with the occurrence of mesocarnivores using single‐species occupancy models, (2) assess patterns of mesocarnivore co‐occurrence with free‐roaming domestic mesocarnivores (e.g., cats and dogs) using two‐species occupancy models, and (3) determine whether co‐occurrence of native and domestic mesocarnivores led to alterations in species’ temporal activity. 3. Land ownership subdivision, rather than habitat loss or fragmentation, had the greatest impact on native mesocarnivore occurrence, with some influence of domestic dogs. Mesocarnivore community occurrence varied from a native to domestic species composition as private land ownership subdivision increased. Native mesocarnivores altered their behaviour temporally when co‐occurring with domestics. Lastly, the presence of domestic dogs was associated with an absence of native mesocarnivores, which merits further investigation into the contribution of domestic dogs to a defaunation process in agricultural areas. 4. Policy implications. Our evidence supports focusing efforts in three key dimensions to advance biodiversity conservation in agricultural landscapes. First, private land subdivision represents a robust proxy for measuring anthropogenic impacts on mesocarnivores, and we advocate its use to inform agricultural policy to mitigate a potential defaunation process. Secondly, there is a need to further engage with landowners and evaluate values, motivation, willingness and action to protect remnant native vegetation and slow land use change. And, lastly, improvements to legislation and conservation marketing strategies on responsible pet ownership are critical to ameliorating the negative impacts of dogs on native wildlife species.
... Parameter ( ) and birds of prey, which rely heavily on small mammals as a food source (Vernon 1972;Skinner and Chimimba 2005;Williams et al. 2018). The processes that can reduce grass cover, and hence impact small mammal communities, include reduced fire frequency (O'Connor et al. 2014), overgrazing (Roques et al. 2001;Koerner and Collins 2014), and decreased browsing (Staver et al. 2009). ...
Article
Full-text available
Disturbance by large herbivores, fires, and humans shapes the structure of savannas, altering the amount of woody vegetation and grass. Due to change in the intensity and frequency of these disturbances, savannas are shifting toward grass-dominated or shrub-dominated systems, likely altering animal communities. Small mammals are critical components of savannas, and their distributions likely are affected by these ecosystem-wide changes in vegetative cover. We assessed the responses of small mammals to a gradient of woody cover in low-lying savannas of southeastern Africa. In Kruger National Park (South Africa) and in three nearby reserves (Eswatini), we livetrapped for over 2 years to build multispecies occupancy models that assessed the responses of the small mammal community to grass and woody cover. Overall, whole-community occupancy increased with grass biomass. More species responded positively to woody cover than to grass biomass, but woody cover was associated with reduced occurrence of one species (Mastomys natalensis). Our results suggest that an increase in grass biomass enhances whole-community occupancy of small mammals, but regional diversity is likely to be higher in areas that contain patches of high grass biomass as well as patches of woody cover.
... Although they do not impact on the same spectrum of prey as large carnivores, they are similarly important ecosystem regulators through structuring invertebrate and/or small mammal communities, including in rural agro-ecosystems (e.g. Williams et al., 2018), which, in turn, may affect both lower and higher trophic levels (Roemer et al., 2009). They may also be important in seed dispersal (e.g. ...
Chapter
Small carnivores – here defined as members of the mammalian Order Carnivora with a body mass < 21.5 kg – occur worldwide, including in Oceania, following introductions. They are represented by 210 to 282 species, which corresponds to around 90% of terrestrial carnivores globally. Some species are endemic to one or two countries (sometimes only islands), while others, like the red fox, Vulpes vulpes, are present in nearly 90 countries over five continents. Small carnivores inhabit virtually all of the Earth’s ecosystems, adopting terrestrial, semi-fossorial, (semi-)arboreal or (semi-)aquatic lifestyles. They occupy multiple trophic levels, being primary consumers when feeding on fruits, seeds, and other plant matter, secondary consumers when preying on frugivorous, granivorous, and herbivorous animals, or tertiary consumers when killing and devouring meat-eating animals. Therefore, they play important roles in the regulation of ecosystems, e.g. natural pest control, seed dispersal and nutrient cycling. In areas where humans have extirpated large carnivores, small carnivores may become the dominant predators, which may increase their abundance (‘mesopredator release’) to the point that they can sometimes destabilize communities, drive local extirpations, and reduce overall biodiversity. On the other hand, one-third of the world’s small carnivores are Threatened or Near Threatened with extinction (sensu IUCN). This results from regionally burgeoning human populations’ industrial and agricultural activities, causing habitat reduction, destruction, fragmentation, and pollution. Overexploitation, persecution, and the impacts of introduced predators, competitors, and pathogens have also negatively affected many small carnivore species. Although small carnivores have been intensively studied over the past decades, bibliometric studies showed that they have not received the same attention given to large carnivores. Furthermore, there is a huge disparity in how research efforts on small carnivores have been distributed, with some species intensively studied, and others superficially or not at all. Regionally, North American and European small carnivores have been the focus of numerous studies, and more research is being progressively conducted in Asia. However, there is a need to increase the research effort in Africa and Central and South America. Encouragingly, the recognition of the importance of the mesopredator release effect and the exponential deployment of camera-traps have started to boost the research effort and scientific knowledge on small carnivores around the world. This book aims at filling a gap in the scientific literature by elucidating the important roles of, and documenting the latest knowledge on, the world’s small carnivores. It is divided into four main sections: (i) Evolution, Systematics, and Distribution; (ii) Ecology, Behaviour, and Diseases; (iii) Interspecific Interactions and Community Ecology; and (iv) Interactions with People and Conservation. We hope that the book will appeal to a wide audience and, considering that the field of small carnivore science remains wide open, stimulate much-needed research globally.
... For example, Prowse et al. (2015) predict that topdown predatory control imposed by dingoes could mediate the balance between kangaroo (wild prey) and domestic livestock, thereby benefiting pastoralists. Similarly, mesocarnivores in South Africa perhaps benefit agriculturists through biological control of rodent pests (Williams et al., 2018). Leopards may be tolerated in many places within India, but are also among the most persecuted large carnivores. ...
... Existing pest 93 control in these areas tends to rely heavily on rodenticides, but such practices cause environmental 94 contamination, poisoning of non-target species, and result in the development of physiological and 95 behavioural resistance to the products used (Buckle and Smith, 2015). To overcome these problems, an 96 alternative approach termed ecologically-based rodent management (EBRM) was developed (Singleton et 97 al., 1999), which emphasises more sustainable pest management solutions such as biological control by 98 native species such as mammalian carnivores (order Carnivora) (Williams et al., 2018b) to be determined if low intensity environmental education can sensitively and cost effectively enhance 127 perspectives of culturally taboo species. Utilising a case study approach, we examined young people's 128 perceptions of owls in two rural South African communities before and after conducting a low intensity 129 environmental education programme. ...
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Traditional cultural beliefs influence perceptions of animals, and in some cases can result in persecution of wildlife. Stigmas against species associated with witchcraft, for example, can act as a barrier to the uptake of more cost effective, sustainable, and environmentally sound practices such as reducing crop damage by controlling rodent agricultural pests by relying on indigenous predators rather than pesticides. One way of enhancing perceptions of wildlife to increase participation in such ecologically-based rodent management (EBRM) schemes, is the development of environmental education initiatives. Low intensity programmes are cost-effective and can produce positive attitudinal shifts, but their impact has not been assessed for species strongly associated with witchcraft. We set out to test whether a single presentation on the natural history of owls (order Strigiformes) could improve perceptions of these species, and increase willingness to participate in an EBRM scheme that involved the installation of owl boxes to increase owl populations and reduce rodent populations and crop damage in agricultural fields. We used a questionnaire survey to assess perceptions of owls at four schools in two villages in South Africa. Our initial survey sampled perceptions of respondents before listening to the presentation. A follow-up survey conducted three months later sampled the perceptions of respondents that had listened to the presentation as well as perceptions of a control group that did not listen to the presentation. We found that associations between owls and witchcraft was a common theme driving negative perceptions of owls. Respondents that watched the presentation had more positive perceptions of owls than respondents that had not watched the presentation, and they were more likely to be willing to put up owl boxes near their home. Despite this shift, negative perceptions of owls still dominated responses due to cultural associations with the occult. These findings indicate that even low-intensity programmes can be effective at enhancing perceptions of wildlife associated with witchcraft. We suggest that environmental education programmes featuring culturally taboo species should adopt a culturally sensitive and locally tailored approach, focus on the benefits these species provide, and may be more effective when delivered with greater intensity.
... Linnell and Lescureux, 2015; van Bommel and Johnson, 2016;Gilbert et al., 2017;O'Bryan et al., 2018), including their ability to act as vertebrate biocontrol tools through consumptive and non-consumptive mechanisms (e.g. Allen, 2015;Potgieter et al., 2016;Williams et al., 2018;Thinley et al., 2018). Accordingly, predators are now being deliberately used or recommended as management tools for reducing the distribution, abundance and impacts of a variety of prey species, including both carnivores and herbivores (e.g. ...
Conference Paper
Introducing consumptive and non-consumptive effects into food webs can have profound effects on individuals, populations and communities. Consequently, the deliberate use of predation and/or fear of predation is an emerging technique for controlling wildlife. Many now advocate for the intentional use of large carnivores and livestock guardian dogs as more desirable alternatives to traditional wildlife control approaches like fencing, shooting or trapping. However, there has been little consideration of the animal welfare implications of deliberately using predation as a wildlife management tool. We assess the animal welfare impacts of using dingoes, leopards and guardian dogs as biocontrol tools against wildlife in Australia and South Africa following the ‘Five Domains’ model commonly used to assess other wildlife management tools. Application of this model indicates that large carnivores and guardian dogs cause considerable lethal and non-lethal animal welfare impacts to the animals they are intended to control. These impacts are likely similar across different predator-prey systems, but are dependent on specific predator-prey combinations; combinations that result in short chases and quick kills will be rated as less harmful than those that result in long chases and protracted kills. Moreover, these impacts are typically rated greater than those caused by traditional wildlife control techniques. The intentional lethal and non-lethal harms caused by large carnivores and guardian dogs should not be ignored or assumed to be negligible. A greater understanding of the impacts they impose would benefit from empirical studies of the animal welfare outcomes arising from their use in different contexts.
... Mesocarnivores also provide important regulating contributions. Williams et al. (2018) found that mongooses and genets were essential to control rodents in the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve (South Africa), and Ćirović et al. (2016) demonstrated the relevance of the golden jackal (Canis aureus) in pest control and waste removal. Numerous important human-carnivore relations occur in the less studied biomes of the Global South, as illustrated by the research clusters of African large carnivores and Asian felids (i.e., clusters 2 and 5; Fig. 5). ...
Article
We conducted a systematic review of 502 articles, published between 2000 and 2016, to characterize the research on human-carnivore relations according to (i) temporal and geographical distribution, (ii) biology, (iii) relations between carnivores and humans, (iv) social actors, (v) drivers of change, (vi) management, and (vii) applied methods. We performed a detrended correspondence analysis and Kruskal-Wallis tests to identify and describe thematic clusters used in human-carnivore relations research. Our results show that research is deeply biased so far, and four important knowledge gaps were detected. First, we found more studies had been conducted in the Global North than in the Global South, although risks and benefits of living alongside carnivores exist in the Global South equally. Second, most research focused on large predators, while small and medium-sized carnivores are also source of damages and ecosystem services. Third, relations were often framed around conflicts, with little attention to possible ecosystem services. Fourth, most research was carried out using natural sciences methods, despite methods from the social sciences having much to offer in this context. Research fell into seven thematic clusters focusing on: (1) North-American bears, (2) African large carnivores, (3) social research in America, (4) meso-carnivores, (5) Asian felids, (6) conflicts with the grey wolf, and (7) damages to human property. These results highlight the need for more integrative, social-ecological research on human-carnivore relations. We discuss how addressing existing knowledge gaps could contribute to mitigating conflicts as well as fostering coexistence between humans and carnivore species.
... These small-to medium-sized predators, collectively called mesopredators (Prugh et al., 2009), are often capable of living close to humans and can attain population densities considerably greater than that of apex predators (DeLong & Vasseur, 2012). Through their combined influence, mesopredators have the capacity to influence ecosystems (Roemer et al., 2009;Williams et al., 2017). Despite this, we know very little about their ecological roles and how fluctuations in their abundance influence biodiversity. ...
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Predators have considerable impacts on ecosystems and biodiversity, with many recent studies highlighting their strong top-down effects that influence ecosystem structure and function. The majority of these insights come from studies on a handful of large charismatic predators (i.e. lions Panthera leo: referred to as apex predators when these large predators dominate the food chain) (Roemer, Gompper & Valkengurgh, 2009; Ripple et al., 2014). The removal of these apex predators has a disproportionately disruptive influence on ecosystem structure and function (Ripple et al., 2014). However, most predators are neither large nor charismatic and consequently have received relatively little research attention compared with the small group of apex predators upon which much research time and funding are focused (Roemer et al., 2009). These small- to medium-sized predators, collectively called mesopredators (Prugh et al., 2009), are often capable of living close to humans and can attain population densities considerably greater than that of apex predators (DeLong & Vasseur, 2012). Through their combined influence, mesopredators have the capacity to influence ecosystems (Roemer et al., 2009; Williams et al., 2017). Despite this, we know very little about their ecological roles and how fluctuations in their abundance influence biodiversity.
... increased invasion potential due to reduced biodiversity). [9] Such changes in ecosystem function and diversity can trigger ecosystem cascading effects that can lead to outbreaks of zoonotic diseases. [10] The poor application and adaptation of rodent control measures to particular situations often results in treatment failures, leading to apathy and widespread acceptance of rodent pests in the environment. ...
... Parameter ( ) and birds of prey, which rely heavily on small mammals as a food source (Vernon 1972;Skinner and Chimimba 2005;Williams et al. 2018). The processes that can reduce grass cover, and hence impact small mammal communities, include reduced fire frequency (O'Connor et al. 2014), overgrazing (Roques et al. 2001;Koerner and Collins 2014), and decreased browsing (Staver et al. 2009). ...
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Disturbance by large herbivores, fires, and humans shapes the structure of savannas, altering the amount of woody vegetation and grass. Due to change in the intensity and frequency of these disturbances, savannas are shifting toward grass-dominated or shrub-dominated systems, likely altering animal communities. Small mammals are critical components of savannas, and their distributions likely are affected by these ecosystem-wide changes in vegetative cover. We assessed the responses of small mammals to a gradient of woody cover in low-lying savannas of southeastern Africa. In Kruger National Park (South Africa) and in three nearby reserves (Eswatini), we livetrapped for over 2 years to build multispecies occupancy models that assessed the responses of the small mammal community to grass and woody cover. Overall, whole-community occupancy increased with grass biomass. More species responded positively to woody cover than to grass biomass, but woody cover was associated with reduced occurrence of one species (Mastomys natalensis). Our results suggest that an increase in grass biomass enhances whole-community occupancy of small mammals, but regional diversity is likely to be higher in areas that contain patches of high grass biomass as well as patches of woody cover.
... In this situation, persecution can create ecosystem disservices by decreasing pollination or pest control, creating economic impacts and biodiversity losses when communities retaliate against wildlife (Hill, 2004). In this special issue, Williams et al. (2018) show that the rural landscape matrix provides valuable habitat for mesocarnivores which suppress rodent pests. Local attitudes, however, viewed mesocarnivores as threats to livestock and were persecuted, thus this paper illustrates the need for communicating by illustrating the importance of biodiversity guilds that provide regulating services. ...
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While there is agreement that ecosystem services provide critical life support, local communities can be disengaged from the process of conservation, allocation and decision-making. How do we move from concepts, which are often seen as hand waving by natural resource users and policymakers, to concrete valuation appreciated at the level of the household, community and policy maker? In this special issue, we explore examples from southern Africa where ecosystem services are engaged and identified by users as important and critical to improved livelihoods as well as advancing business outcomes. Two papers focus on how small, disenfranchised communities can be empowered to build a common vision of natural resource priority and identify a voice in the planning process. The second two papers in this issue investigate the role of two functional mammal guilds, bats and mesocarnivores, in reducing crop depredation. The final paper investigates how ecovolunteerism can fulfill conservation and community development gaps that occur when governments and NGO's do not avail themselves to local communities. Together these research papers provide a holistic and synthetic view about the links between humans and ecosystems , help to assess community level capacity for sustainability and stewardship, and define what the metrics of success look like.
... There is an extensive bibliography that recognizes a great amount of ES provided by birds and mammals (Clark et al., 2016;Gaston et al., 2018;Lacher et al., 2019;Whelan et al., 2008). These groups comprise a great diversity of species with very different habitat behaviors and requirements, fulfilling important roles in the ecosystems (Davidson et al., 2012;Green and Elmberg, 2014;Sarasola et al., 2016;Whelan et al., 2008;Williams et al., 2018). These groups of animals are related to the three types of ES defined by the Common International Classi-nectarivorous bat and lemur species regulate forest floral diversity through their role as seed dispersers and pollinators (Dew and Wright, 1998). ...
Article
The expansion and intensification of human activities in the Argentinean Pampas have affected birds and mammals that inhabit the agroecosystems, threatening their populations and aggravating their conflicts with humans. On the other hand, they play different roles in the provision of Ecosystem Services (ES). Therefore, identifying and understanding the relationships between species and humans, and the delivery of ES is crucial for sustainable management of the environment. The objectives of this study were to identify ecological functions of birds and mammals and its conflicts with human activities reported by previous articles in the Pampas region; and to link these ecological functions as indicators of the potential ES provided by these species. We performed two systematic and structured searches of articles using Scopus bibliographic database, one for the ecological functions and the second one for conflicts. From the first search, we found 145 studies and 34% of them reported ecological functions, 78% were about birds and the rest about mammals. The Regulation and Maintenance ES were the most reported type and involved the provision of nutrients and pest control, with birds of prey and carnivorous mammals as the most mentioned groups. Provisioning ES were related to the provision of leather from legal hunting and genetic material, and Cultural ES were associated to species conservation. From the conflict search, we found 23 studies that mentioned negative interactions in the Pampas region, mostly with birds and associated to agricultural production damages. Many species mentioned as important ES providers, are also involved in conflicts, causing some discomfort to people. Therefore, the integration of wildlife, with its benefits and damages, could be a powerful argument to achieve the coexistence of wildlife into a landscape shaped by anthropogenic activities.
... Considering the high proportion of rodents in the diet of two mesocarnivores in our study ( jackal and fox), they may also provide economic benefits through pest control (e.g. [69]). But formulating national policy frameworks for conserving predators whose global ranges are large but nonetheless face local extinctions can be a challenge. ...
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Many carnivores inhabit human-dominated landscapes outside protected reserves. Spatially explicit assessments of carnivore distributions and livestock depredation patterns in human-use landscapes are crucial for minimizing negative interactions and fostering coexistence between people and predators. India harbours 23% of the world's carnivore species that share space with 1.3 billion people in approximately 2.3% of the global land area. We examined carnivore distributions and human-carnivore interactions in a multi-use forest landscape in central India. We focused on five sympatric carnivore species: Indian grey wolf Canis lupus pallipes, dhole Cuon alpinus, Indian jackal Canis aureus indicus, Indian fox Vulpes bengalensis and striped hyena Hyaena hyaena. Carnivore occupancy ranged from 12% for dholes to 86% for jackals, mostly influenced by forests, open scrublands and terrain ruggedness. Livestock/poultry depredation probability in the landscape ranged from 21% for dholes to greater than 95% for jackals, influenced by land cover and livestock- or poultry-holding. The five species also showed high spatial overlap with free-ranging dogs, suggesting potential competitive interactions and disease risks, with consequences for human health and safety. Our study provides insights on factors that facilitate and impede co-occurrence between people and predators. Spatial prioritization of carnivore-rich areas and conflict-prone locations could facilitate human-carnivore coexistence in shared habitats. Our framework is ideally suited for making socio-ecological assessments of human-carnivore interactions in other multi-use landscapes and regions, worldwide.
... Linnell and Lescureux, 2015; van Bommel and Johnson, 2016;Gilbert et al., 2017;O'Bryan et al., 2018), including their ability to act as vertebrate biocontrol tools through consumptive and non-consumptive mechanisms (e.g. Allen, 2015;Potgieter et al., 2016;Williams et al., 2018;Thinley et al., 2018). Accordingly, predators are now being deliberately used or recommended as management tools for reducing the distribution, abundance and impacts of a variety of prey species, including both carnivores and herbivores (e.g. ...
Article
Introducing consumptive and non-consumptive effects into food webs can have profound effects on individuals, populations and communities. This knowledge has led to the deliberate use of predation and/or fear of predation as an emerging technique for controlling wildlife. Many now advocate for the intentional use of large carnivores and livestock guardian dogs as more desirable alternatives to traditional wildlife control approaches like fencing, shooting, trapping, or poisoning. However, there has been very little consideration of the animal welfare implications of deliberately using predation as a wildlife management tool. We assess the animal welfare impacts of using dingoes, leopards and guardian dogs as biocontrol tools against wildlife in Australia and South Africa following the 'Five Domains' model commonly used to assess other wildlife management tools. Application of this model indicates that large carnivores and guardian dogs cause considerable lethal and non-lethal animal welfare impacts to the individual animals they are intended to control. These impacts are likely similar across different predator-prey systems, but are dependent on specific predator-prey combinations; combinations that result in short chases and quick kills will be rated as less harmful than those that result in long chases and protracted kills. Moreover, these impacts are typically rated greater than those caused by traditional wildlife control techniques. The intentional lethal and non-lethal harms caused by large carnivores and guardian dogs should not be ignored or dismissively assumed to be negligible. A greater understanding of the impacts they impose would benefit from empirical studies of the animal welfare outcomes arising from their use in different contexts.
... Thirdly, the abundance of modified habitat at Secunda could also facilitate high serval population density. Disturbed habitat can be highly productive 40 and provide shelter and food resources for species such as rodents that serval prey upon 41 , providing abundant food and in turn supporting a high abundance of serval. ...
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As the environment becomes increasingly altered by human development, the importance of understanding the ways in which wildlife interact with modified landscapes is becoming clear. Areas such as industrial sites are sometimes presumed to have little conservation value, but many of these sites have areas of less disturbed habitats around their core infrastructure, which could provide ideal conditions to support some species, such as mesocarnivores. We conducted the first assessments of the density of serval (Leptailurus serval) at the Secunda Synfuels Operations plant, South Africa, using camera trap surveys analysed within a spatially explicit capture recapture framework. We show that servals occurred at densities of 76.20–101.21 animals per 100 km2, which are higher than previously recorded densities for this species, presumably due to high abundance of prey and the absence of persecution and/or competitor species. Our findings highlight the significant conservation potential of industrialised sites, and we suggest that such sites could help contribute towards meeting conservation goals.
... On the contrary, the concept does not depend on any particular type of value but instead generates position analogs and stakeholder salience from intrinsic, instrumental, cultural, or other sources of value attributed to the ecological phenomenon. Given that conservation efforts are already limited by what humans perceive as valuable (e.g., Sutherland et al., 2018;Williams et al., 2018), this aspect of the concept creates no new problems. ...
Article
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Water security is essential for human well‐being and is among the biggest challenges in environmental governance. Governments and nonprofit organizations alike are gaining increased appreciation for the contributions of intact ecosystems to water security, whereas conservation scientists call for decisive action to address the dire condition of earth's freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity. Stakeholder‐based, Habermasian decision‐making frameworks such as integrated water resources management (IWRM) are widely used to equitably manage complex water systems, and ecologists have developed increasingly sophisticated frameworks (e.g., environmental flows) to quantify and anticipate the ecological outcomes of water management decisions. IWRM implementation is criticized for being excessively top‐down whereas ecological frameworks in water decision‐making can fail to account for the cultural and societal values of ecosystems, and it remains unclear how best to connect the desired bottom‐up implementation of IWRM with the expert‐based, top‐down structure of hydro‐ecological research. We revisit and elaborate upon the ecological stakeholder analog (ESA) concept, which treats ecological phenomena (e.g., species and processes) as stakeholders and ecological information as interests and positions with respect to water management. We then illustrate how ESAs can address the many calls to improve environmental flows and IWRM strategies by improving their integration, and how established conceptual frameworks from stakeholder theory applies readily to ecological stakeholders.
... Small carnivores also provide important ecosystem services. European badgers Meles meles increase habitat heterogeneity through digging behaviour (Kurek et al. 2014); golden jackals Canis aureus remove animal waste (Ćirović et al. 2016); several species are important seed dispersers (Nakashima & Do Linh San 2022); others control agricultural pests (Williams et al. 2018), where rodent predation can also reduce tick-borne disease transmission (Hofmeester et al. 2017); and some can even act as apex or dominant predators where large carnivores do not exist or have been extirpated (Roemer et al. 2009). As a result of these diverse ecological pathways, small carnivores can provide multiple measures of, or responses to, environmental change in a range of systems globally (Fig. 1). ...
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Species that respond to ecosystem change in a timely, measurable, and interpretable way can be used as sentinels of global change. Contrary to a pervasive view, we suggest that, among Carnivora, small carnivores are more appropriate sentinels than large carnivores. This reasoning is built around six key points: that, compared to large carnivores, small carnivores 1) are more species‐rich and diverse, providing more potential sentinels in many systems; 2) occupy a wider range of ecological niches, exhibiting a greater variety of sensitivities to change; 3) hold an intermediate trophic position that is more directly affected by changes at the producer, primary consumer, and tertiary consumer levels; 4) have shorter life spans and higher reproductive rates, exhibiting more rapid responses to change; 5) have smaller home ranges and are more abundant, making it easier to investigate fine‐scale management interventions; 6) are easier to monitor, manage, and manipulate. Therefore, we advocate for incorporating a middle‐out approach, in addition to the established top‐down and bottom‐up approaches, to assessing the responses of ecosystems to global change. Les espèces qui réagissent au changement de l'écosystème de manière opportune, mesurable et interprétable peuvent être utilisées comme sentinelles du changement global. Contrairement à une opinion répandue, nous suggérons que, parmi l'ordre des Carnivora, les petits carnivores sont des sentinelles plus appropriées que les grands carnivores. Ce raisonnement est construit autour de six points‐clés: que, comparés aux grands carnivores, les petits carnivores 1) sont plus riches en espèces et plus diversifiés, fournissant plus d'espèces sentinelles potentielles dans de nombreux systèmes; 2) occupent un plus large éventail de niches écologiques, présentant une plus grande variété de sensibilités au changement; 3) occupent une position trophique intermédiaire plus directement affectée par les changements au niveau du producteur, du consommateur primaire et du consommateur tertiaire; 4) ont des durées de vie plus courtes et des taux de reproduction plus élevés, présentant des réponses plus rapides au changement; 5) ont des domaines vitaux plus petits et sont plus abondants, ce qui facilite l'étude des interventions de gestion à petite échelle; 6) sont plus faciles à surveiller, gérer et manipuler. Par conséquent, nous préconisons l'intégration d'une approche intermédiaire, en plus des approches descendantes et ascendantes établies, pour évaluer les réponses des écosystèmes au changement global. Species that respond to ecosystem change in a timely, measurable, and interpretable way can be used as sentinels of global change. We suggest that, among Carnivora, small carnivores are more appropriate sentinels than large carnivores, and we support our view with six key points: that, compared to large carnivores, small carnivores 1) are more species‐rich and diverse, providing more potential sentinels in many systems; 2) occupy a wider range of ecological niches, exhibiting a greater variety of sensitivities to change; 3) hold an intermediate trophic position that is more directly affected by changes at the producer, primary consumer, and tertiary consumer levels; 4) have shorter life spans and higher reproductive rates, exhibiting more rapid responses to change; 5) have smaller home ranges and are more abundant, making it easier to investigate fine‐scale management interventions; 6) are easier to monitor, manage, and manipulate. We advocate for incorporating a middle‐out approach, in addition to the established top‐down and bottom‐up approaches, to assessing the responses of ecosystems to global change.
... A more sustainable and wildlifefriendly use of unprotected land is the key for reducing extinctions (Lehikoinen et al. 2019;Blanco et al. 2020). Many small felid-species ranges are almost entirely on unprotected lands, but their ecology remains largely unknown (Lanz et al. 2019) although they provide important ecosystem services (Macdonald and Loveridge 2010;Williams et al. 2018). For example, black-footed cats, Felis nigripes, jungle cats, Felis chaus, and caracal, Caracal caracal, regulate the abundance of rodents (Mukherjee et al. 2004;Sliwa et al. 2010). ...
Article
Context. The ranges of many small, at-risk felid species occur almost entirely in unprotected areas, where research efforts are minimal; hence data on their density and activity patterns are scare. Aims. We estimated density and activity patterns of Pallas’s cats on unprotected lands in central Mongolia during two periods (May–August and September–November) in 2019. Methods. We used spatially explicit capture–recapture models to estimate population density at 15.2±4.8 individuals per 100 km2. Key results. We obtained 484 Pallas’s cat images from 153 detections during 4266 camera-days. We identified Pallas’s cats using pelage markings and identified 16 individuals from 64 detections. Pallas’s cat activity was consistent between the two survey periods (~0.50), with cats mainly active during crepuscular hours in the first period and strictly diurnal in the second. Conclusions. We provide the first estimation of a Pallas’s cat population density using camera-trapping. Compared with other methods used, densities were high in our study area, which was likely to be due to a combination of highly suitable habitat and abundant prey. Seasonal shifts in the activity patterns of Pallas’s cats indicated a likely adaptive response to reduced risk of depredation by raptors. Implications. We recommend August to November as the best time for camera-trapping surveys for Pallas’s cats, given their high daily activity and the easiest interpretation of images used for individual identification collected during this time. We also suggest that future camera-trapping surveys of Pallas’s cat be mindful of potential camera-trap avoidance through time.
... Mesocarnivores undoubtedly play important roles in ecosystem functions (Prugh et al. 2009;Roemer et al. 2009;Williams et al. 2018), and their continued occurrence in landscapes under increasing intensification requires our attention (Roemer et al. 2009;Farias and Jaksic 2011). Temporal patterns can shift due to competition (Harrington et al. 2009;Cunningham et al. 2019), resource availability (Schmidt 1999;Weckel et al. 2006;Foster et al. 2013), predation risk (Ross et al. 2013), and human illumination (Hoffmann et al. 2018), among others (Presley et al. 2009;Davimes et al. 2017;Diete et al. 2017;Lendrum et al. 2017). ...
Article
Carnivores face important anthropogenic threats in agricultural areas from habitat loss and fragmentation, disturbance by domestic free-roaming dogs and cats, and direct hunting by humans. Anthropogenic disturbances are shifting the activity patterns of wild animals, likely modifying species interactions. We estimated changes in the activity patterns of the mesocarnivore guild of agricultural landscapes of the La Araucanía region in southern Chile in response to land-use intensification, comparing intra- and interspecific activity patterns at low and high levels of forest cover, fragmentation, and land ownership subdivision. Our focal species comprise the güiña or kod-kod (Leopardus guigna), two fox species (Lycalopex culpaeus and L. griseus), a skunk (Conepatus chinga), and one native mustelid (Galictis cuja), in addition to free-roaming dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) and cats (Felis catus) and their main mammalian prey species (i.e., Rodentia and Lagomorpha). In 23,373 trap nights, we totaled 21,729 independent records of our focal species. Our results show tendencies toward nocturnality at high land-use intensification, with potential impacts on species fitness. Nocturnal mesocarnivores decreased their diurnal/crepuscular activity, while cathemeral activity shifted to nocturnal activity at high land-use intensification, but only when in sympatry with a competitor. High land-use intensification decreased the activity overlap between native and domestic mesocarnivores but increased the overlap between native mesocarnivores. High intensification also reduced overlap with prey species. Notably, foxes displayed peaks of activity opposing those of dogs, and plasticity in activity pattern when in sympatry with dogs, such as strategies to avoid encounters. We stress the need to suppress the free-roaming and unsupervised activity of dogs to mitigate impacts of high land-use intensification on mesocarnivores.
... Given that mesopredators play an important ecological role, lethal control measures may have severe impacts on ecosystem structure and function (Prugh et al. 2009). Mesopredators control small vertebrate populations (Avenant 1993;Caro and Stoner 2003;Tambling et al. 2018;Williams et al. 2018), influence other mesopredators through intra-guild predation (Polis et al. 1989;Donadio and Buskirk 2006;Kamler et al. 2013), and affect plant communities through granivore predation (DeMattia et al. 2004) as well as their own consumption and dispersal of seeds (Silverstein 2005;Jordano et al. 2007;Kamler et al. 2020). As their multi-faceted roles in the ecosystem are strongly linked to their foraging behavior, it is important to understand foraging niche structure within and between populations of mesopredators, particularly in understudied areas such as wildlife and livestock farms (Kamler et al. 2012;Humphries et al. 2015). ...
Article
Wildlife and livestock farms around the world have eradicated large predators, leaving an empty niche for mesopredators to occupy. In South Africa, black-backed jackals (Canis mesomelas) are a widely distributed mesopredator that actively prey on wildlife and livestock. Despite the documented economic losses often associated with livestock predation in South Africa and abroad, research in many areas of canid ecology has received little attention. Using standard isotopic analysis (SIA), we conducted inter-population and jackal–prey isotopic comparisons by analyzing the δ13C and δ15N signals of jackal scat and prey hair samples (livestock and rodents) collected in sites of varied human exposure across multiple seasons. C3 signals dominated our results despite the C4 grasslands that are characteristic of the study sites. Our results indicated inter-population variation with a C3/C4 mixed diet in reserve and livestock farm samples, and a C3 orientated diet in wildlife farm samples. There were significant differences in the δ13C between seasons in the livestock and wildlife farm populations but not in the reserve population. δ15N had strong support for inter-population differences and no support for seasonal variation. Jackal isotopic niche breadths differed between populations, overlapped moderately with rodent prey and indicated almost no overlap with livestock. Our results highlight the feeding plasticity of jackals and the impact of human activities on resource availability and the subsequent feeding choices in canids. Using SIA, we accurately determined that livestock form a limited, if not completely absent, constituent of certain jackal populations. We strongly encourage the complementary use of SIA in dietary studies and wildlife management practices.
... However, populations of smaller cat species populations can also be severely affected by human disturbance (Dickman, 2015;Fleschutz et al., 2016), while also being largely understudied when compared to larger species (Macdonald and Loveridge 2010;Anile and Devillard 2020;Marneweck et al. 2021). Nevertheless, ecosystem services provided by small cats are essential for any ecosystem by regulating the distribution and abundance of a variety of prey species (Williams et al. 2018). ...
Article
Knowledge of genetic diversity is important to wildlife conservation because genetically depleted populations experience an increased risk of extinction. Mammalian carnivores are characterized by small and fragmented populations and low dispersal, so that genetic erosion can lead to the fixation of deleterious genes relatively quickly, leading to morphological abnormalities. Kinked tails and cowlicks are indicative of inbreeding depression and have been described in two wild cat species so far, the puma (Puma concolor) and the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus). Here we report the first records of morphological abnormalities in five populations of the European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris) in Italy by using (1) camera-trapping and (2) necropsy of road-killed individuals assessed through genetic analysis. We collected 24,055 trap-nights from 251 cameras and recorded 566 wildcat detections, from which we identified 148 wildcats. Among these, 11 individuals had a kinked tail and four displayed brachyuria, whereas three wildcats from Sicily had cowlicks on the thorax. We recovered 28 road-killed wildcats and two of them (from Sicily and Friuli Venezia Giulia) had a kinked tail. Among these, one female with a kinked tail had a male foetus with a kinked tail, which proved that this characteristic was genetically inherited. We are unsure why brachyuria or cowlicks were not detected across all monitored wildcat populations, given we found kinked tails throughout Italy. The frequencies at which we have detected these abnormalities in wildcats are far lower than reports from Florida panthers (Puma concolor). Future research is needed to verify whether these abnormalities are also associated with low genetic diversity or other morphological defects which might lower fitness. We recommend a nationwide effort, using these techniques within a standardized sampling design, to further understand the status of the wildcat in Italy.
... obs.). Through this opportunistic usage of a large number of other prey items in the Reserve, they are expected to play an important role in the ecosystem (see Williams et al. 2017;Minnie et al. 2018;Tambling et al. 2018;Bagniewska & Kamler 2013;Pohl et al. Submitted). ...
... Habitat degradation resulting from livestock grazing has detrimental effects on large mammals (Ripple et al. 2014(Ripple et al. , 2015Soofi et al. 2018), while a general trend of total abundance declining with grazing is also documented for small mammals (Schieltz and Rubenstein 2016). But studies on the specific effects on small carnivores are few and with contrasting outcomes (Blaum et al. 2007a(Blaum et al. , 2007b(Blaum et al. , 2009Bösing et al. 2014;Williams et al. 2018). For example, a study in South Africa reported that stocking rate of livestock was inversely related to local abundance of small-and medium-sized predators, including felids (Blaum et al. 2009). ...
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Biased research and conservation efforts result in some faunal groups (e.g., small felids) being understudied, and hence these groups are often declining without adequate knowledge to manage for threat reduction. The Pallas's cat (Otocolobus manul) occurs across central and western Asia with declining populations and the largest population is likely in Mongolia. A potential threat to this felid is livestock encroachment across its range, including within protected areas, yet we lack a clear understanding of the impact of livestock husbandry on this cat. We used motion-sensitive camera data from 216 sites in 4 study areas in western Mongolia to study the occurrence probability of Pallas's cat in relation to habitat characteristics and occurrence of livestock, and conducted a local assessment within a strictly protected area where we obtained the highest number of detections. We estimated a relatively low occupancy (0.33 ± 0.10), which is associated with sites with natural vegetation, steeper slopes, and greater prey abundance. Occupancy also increased with increasing livestock occurrence, particularly large herds of sheep and goats. Such co-occurrence was partially adjusted by diel activity segregation, presumably to limit direct encounters. Our results suggest that the preferred habitat by Pallas's cat in the study region coincides with areas encroached by livestock. The Pallas's cat's habitat is specialized and its dependence on areas that are increasingly used for grazing may eventually threaten the cat with habitat degradation, prey depletion, predation by dogs, and poisoning from pest control. Relevant conservation actions should regulate livestock encroachment within protected areas and improve grazing regimes. The Pallas's cat is an indicator species of mountainous and steppe ecosystems in central Asia; hence, further research towards the preservation of its populations would also benefit other key species across its range.
... Because of trophic cascade and anthropogenic effects on small carnivores (for example, habitat specialist mammal species and their species richness were decreased in East African savanna between 1962 to 2010 due to habitat alteration), their population is believed to be declining worldwide (Kalle et al., 2013;Byrom et al., 2015;King et al., 2017). Furthermore, the shrinking habitat is affecting species ecology and their behavior (DeFries et al., 2010;Kalle et al., 2013); however, they are found to be capable of adapting in varied habitat conditions (DeFries et al., 2010;Athreya et al., 2013), and can play an important role in ecosystem functioning at forest and grassland habitats (Roemer et al., 2009;Kalle et al., 2013;King et al., 2017;Williams et al., 2018). The conservation status of the small carnivores such as wild small cats, martens, mongooses and civets is poorly understood as there is little information available on small carnivores than those of large carnivores such as tigers Panthera tigris, leopards P. pardus and hyenas Hyaena hyaena (Joshi et al., 1995;Athreya et al., 2013;Kalle et al., 2013;Kalle et al., 2014;Bhandari et al., 2020). ...
Article
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Small carnivores are able to adapt to patchy forests and human dominated landscape in proximity to water sources. Small carnivore’s population is declining due to anthropogenic effects, and in most of the areas, their occurrence is little known. We aimed to identify the spatial occurrence of crab-eating mongoose, the factors affecting the occurrence of species and coexistence with other species using camera trap. The crab-eating mongoose mostly preferred the shrub-land habitat (65%) and followed by agriculture land, forest and grassland. Almost all preferred habitats were near to water sources. The occurrence of crab-eating mongoose was influenced by human disturbances. Their occurrences were decreased with increasing disturbances. In addition, the crab-eating mongoose’s occurrence was also decreased with increasing distance to water sources. The movement activities of crab-eating mongoose were varied according to time period (F = 6; df = 14; p < 0.013), and was mostly active at day to mid-night (16.00 to 12.00 hours) and mid-night to early morning (12.00 to 8.00 hours). The crab-eating mongoose co-exists with other carnivores including Leopard, Jungle cat, Masked-palm civet, Small Indian mongoose, Leopard cat, Yellow-throated martin, and Large Indian civet. In addition, its occurrence was affected by human interference. The data available from this study can be used to develop site/species-specific conservation plans that aid stewardship for biodiversity conservation.
... Our study improves knowledge of coexistence mechanisms of lesser-studied species and can contribute to implement the conservation and management for this guild of species. For example, predation by red fox on the Mongolian gerbil (n = 1) and by Pallas's cat on both Mongolian silver vole and Daurian pika was recorded by our cameras (six predations of both species), thus confirming their roles as important predators that can regulate the abundance of rodents and lagomorphs (Cancio et al. 2017;Williams et al. 2018). ...
Article
Research on the ecology and behaviour of mesocarnivores and their prey is scant in Mongolia. We investigated activity patterns of a guild of mesocarnivores (red fox, Pallas’s cat and beech marten) and their prey (Siberian marmot, Daurian pika, Brandt vole, Mongolian gerbil and Mongolian silver vole) using 21 camera traps (effort = 1155 camera days) in Central Mongolia from 25st of May to 20th August 2019. Activity patterns of mesocarnivores were cathemeral (i.e. no difference between diurnal, nocturnal and crepuscular detections, although activity peaked at sunrise). Among prey, the Siberian marmot and the Daurian pika were diurnal, whereas the Mongolian gerbil and the Mongolian silver vole were not generally crepuscular. Beech marten, the smallest mesocarnivore species, was temporally segregated from the other (and larger) mesocarnivore species. Temporal segregation between mesocarnivores and prey was evident between the following pairs: red fox vs Brandt’s vole and Mongolian gerbil; Pallas’s cat vs Siberian marmot, Brandt’s vole and Mongolian gerbil; and beech marten vs Siberian marmot, Daurian pika and the Mongolian silver vole. Activity overlap between mesocarnivores and prey ranged considerably. Activity overlap between the beech marten and prey was lower than that of the other mesocarnivores. Temporal overlap among mesocarnivores and between mesocarnivores and prey seemed to be related to species-specific traits, while also being mediated by local prey abundance. We suggest future surveys should be stratified based on habitat and on the target species, while also integrating different survey methods (e.g. camera traps and live trapping of small mammals).
... However, different types and scales of land cover changes may disrupt or enhance the scavenging services offered by certain taxonomic groups ( Tews et al. 2004 ;DeVault et al. 2011 ). In many anthropogenically dominated landscapes, mesocarnivores are the dominant scavengers ( Cancio et al. 2017 ;Williams et al. 2018 ), yet we only have a limited understanding of how patterns of land cover on different scales alter their scavenging services. ...
Article
Increased agricultural intensification and extensive woody plant encroachment are having widespread effects on the functioning of grass-dominated systems at multiple spatial scales. Yet there is little understanding of how the provisioning of biodiversity-based ecosystem services might be altered by these ongoing changes. One fundamental ecosystem service that is decreasing globally, especially in human-altered landscapes, is scavenging that regulates disease processes, alters species distributions, and influences nutrient cycling. Accordingly, our goal was to understand how facultative scavenging, particularly that of mesocarnivores, was affected by landscape heterogeneity and woody encroachment in tropical-grassy savannas within an agricultural landscape mosaic. We baited (using chicken carcasses) plots across a gradient of land cover heterogeneity in areas with an open and closed canopy and subsequently measured scavenging rates. We found that scavenging efficiency of mesocarnivores and other small vertebrates was dependent on environmental variation at multiple spatial scales within our savanna agroe-cosystem. Mesocarnivores removed more bait when the overstory canopy at the plot (i.e., exact location of bait station) was more closed; in contrast, mesocarnivore scavenging was less efficient when patches (50 × 50 m area around the bait station) within the site had a higher density of shrubs. At the landscape scale, increased land cover fragmentation resulted in decreased amounts of scavenging by mesocarni-vores. This study demonstrates that a relatively transformed agroecosystem can support the provision of important ecosystem services and offer an important buffer against loss of ecosystem services. Our results suggest that targeted woody encroachment control, protection of large trees, and management or mitigation of extreme levels of fragmentation can help maintain ecosystem service provision and biodiversity .
... Wildcats provide valuable ecosystem services such as controlling populations of small mammals (e.g. rodents and rabbits) that usually cause significant damage to agricultural crops (Roemer et al. 2009;Williams et al. 2018). In anthropized areas, wildcats are usually forced to survive in small remnant habitat patches. ...
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The Chilean Mediterranean ecosystem is threatened by anthropogenic pressures, such as habitat loss by intensive agriculture and urban sprawl. Abandoned dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) and cats (Felis silvestris catus) pose conservation challenges for Chilean wildlife including the pampas cat (Leopardus colocolo) and the güiña (Leopardus guigna). We used camera trap data to investigate influences of natural and anthropogenic landscape features on spatiotemporal trends of these species. We also used co-occurrence modeling and kernel density estimation to investigate spatial and temporal patterns overlap of wildcats, free-ranging (FR) dogs, and FR-cats. FR-dogs showed the highest detection and site use probabilities, while güiñas had the lowest across 80 camera trap sites. Top models showed no spatial avoidance between species and co-occurrence of wildcats was positively influenced by forest habitat. However, FR-dogs negatively affected detection of wildcats. Ravines surrounded by forest positively influenced güiña and pampas cat detection probabilities when dominant species were not present. FR-dogs and wildcats had significantly different temporal activity patterns and low overlap coefficients, while wildcats and FR-cats showed high overlap in activity patterns. We suggest changing current policies to control domestic animals and strategic planning in agricultural areas of central Chile to better conserve native wildcat species.
... For example, declines in large predator populations may cause the loss of top-down pressure on both medium-large prey species and smaller predators (Prugh et al., 2009;Terborgh et al., 2001). Under these circumstances, mesopredator populations might increase due to a greater availability of resources, as commonly observed in human-modified landscapes (Ferreira et al., 2018;Williams et al., 2018). ...
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Habitat loss is a significant threat to biodiversity worldwide, and the Argentine Dry Chaco is one of the most active global deforestation hotspots. Medium-large mammals are especially vulnerable to land-cover change, and in the Dry Chaco, they are subjected to the combined effect of habitat loss and hunting. In agroe-cosystems, blocks of natural habitat can contribute to maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem functionality, and it is necessary to identify human-modified landscape configurations that are compatible with wildlife conservation. Through camera-trapping in five agroecosystems of the Argentine Dry Chaco, we assessed the role of local-scale forest proportion and distance to large forest patches on medium-large mammal richness and frequency of records. Forest proportion positively influenced medium-large mammal estimated richness, and large-bodied mammals were more frequent in stations near large forest blocks and in stations with higher forest proportion when larger forest blocks were distant. Small-medium sized generalist car-nivores were more frequent in stations with lower forest proportion. Forest remnants and the presence of large forest patches are thus important for medium-large mammals in the region and more specifically for the conservation of larger-bodied species. Forest loss may also facilitate the increase of mesopredator populations , with potential consequences on the dynamics of ecosystems and human-wildlife interactions. For agroecosystems to contribute to the conservation of mammals in the Dry Chaco, the preservation or restoration of forest remnants and of large extensions of forests should be incorporated in regional and local land-use planning .
... African mesocarnivores are important predators of small vertebrates (e.g. rodents, lagomorphs and birds [20], including pest species [69]). Many are also facultative scavengers significant to waste removal [70]. ...
Article
Apex predator reintroductions have proliferated across southern Africa, yet their ecological effects and proposed umbrella benefits of associated management lack empirical evaluations. Despite a rich theory on top-down ecosystem regulation via mesopredator suppression, a knowledge gap exists relating to the influence of lions (Panthera leo) over Africa's diverse mesocarnivore (less than 20 kg) communities. We investigate how geographical variation in mesocarnivore community richness and occupancy across South African reserves is associated with the presence of lions. An interesting duality emerged: lion reserves held more mesocarnivore-rich communities, yet mesocarnivore occupancy rates and evenness-weighted diversity were lower in the presence of lions. Human population density in the reserve surroundings had a similarly ubiquitous negative effect on mesocarnivore occupancy. The positive association between species richness and lion presence corroborated the umbrella species concept but translated into small differences in community size. Distributional contractions of mesocarnivore species within lion reserves, and potentially corresponding numerical reductions, suggest within-community mesopredator suppression by lions, probably as a result of lethal encounters and responses to a landscape of fear. Our findings offer empirical support for the theoretical understanding of processes underpinning carnivore community assembly and are of conservation relevance under current large-predator orientated management and conservation paradigms.
... Agricultural impacts on carnivore populations may also disrupt the benefits these species provide to human wellbeing (O'Bryan et al. 2018), such as disease mitigation, carrion removal, or even as pest control agents indirectly increasing agricultural production (e.g. Williams et al. 2018). Future agricultural expansion is predicted to greatly overlap with important areas for carnivore conservation (Dobrovolski et al. 2013). ...
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The growing needs for agricultural expansion and intensification will likely continue to reduce and fragment the terrestrial habitats fundamental to mammalian carnivores. Recent research identified benefits of agroecosystems to carnivores recognizing their multifunctionality, mostly for common species. However, the variability of carnivore ecology investigated in agroecosystems, biases in agriculture types and species targeted, and methodological approaches may affect the available knowledge to reconcile conservation and agricultural production. To fill this gap, we conducted a systematic literature review to identify which aspects of and how is carnivore spatial ecology being investigated within agroecosystems. Of the 110 reviewed studies, most focused on agricultural crops (55%) and grasslands (47%) and half referred to monocultures. We found that 61% of the studies were conducted in Europe and North America. Eighty-four carnivore species were studied, 73% classified as Least Concern, with 67% of the studies targeting a single species and 30% focused on only seven common species. Almost all studies included some form of habitat use analysis and species’ home-range and its attributes (e.g. size, resource selection), the most common spatial ecology aspects studied. Most studies suggested that agriculture functions as food provisioning (69%) but few used direct food availability measures. Our results highlight that studies tend to be descriptive and geographically biased towards northern hemisphere and to non-forested agricultural types. We suggest that future carnivore spatial ecology research in agroecosystem should be hypotheses-driven, with greater focus on the mechanisms and processes through which agroecosystems might affect carnivore spatial ecology in particular for areas with high priority for carnivore conservation.
... Thirdly, the abundance of modified habitat at Secunda could also facilitate high serval population density. Disturbed habitat can be highly productive 40 and provide shelter and food resources for species such as rodents that serval prey upon 41 , providing abundant food and in turn supporting a high abundance of serval. ...
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As the environment becomes increasingly altered by human development, the importance of understanding the ways in which wildlife interact with modified landscapes is becoming clear. Areas such as industrial sites are sometimes presumed to have little conservation value, but many of these sites have areas of less disturbed habitats around their core infrastructure, which could provide ideal conditions to support some species, such as mesocarnivores. We conducted the first assessments of the density of serval ( Leptailurus serval ) at the Secunda Synfuels Operations plant, South Africa. We ran three camera trap surveys to estimate serval density using a spatially explicit capture recapture framework. Servals occurred at densities of 76.20-101.21 animals per 100 km ² , which are the highest recorded densities for this species, presumably due to high abundance of prey and the absence of persecution and/or competitor species. Our findings highlight the significant conservation potential of industrialised sites, and we suggest that such sites could help contribute towards meeting conservation goals.
... In the European Union (EU) agricultural landscapes cover almost half of its total surface (European Union, 2018). Several species of wildlife have adapted themselves to traditional agricultural landscapes, performing significant ecosystem services and nature's contributions to people (ESNCP) such as pest outbreak control, pollination, nutrient cycling and resilience to environmental stressors (Whelan et al., 2008;Garfinkel and Johnson, 2015;Milligan et al., 2016;Williams et al., 2017). From the middle of the 20th century, agricultural practices and techniques became more intensive, changing the traditional management paradigms and spawning environmental problems such as soil and water pollution, natural resources depletion and creating a widespread decline in biodiversity (Benton et al., 2003;Kontsiotis et al., 2017). ...
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Sustainable management of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes is a European Union objective supported on multifunctional agri-environment measures. The effectiveness of specific practices implemented to reverse declines in farmland biodiversity should be monitored using straightforward methodologies and indicators. This work outlines an innovative hybrid framework to predict the response of biodiversity indicators to farm management options. We exemplify the framework application, integrating monitoring, statistics and spatio-temporal modelling procedures with a case study using flying vertebrates' patterns for indicating biodiversity trends. The indicators considered depict significant divergences within contrasting on-farm implemented environmental management options. In fact, while birds' abundance was expected to increase within environmentally friendly options, bats passes showed fluctuating patterns. Overall, the framework and indicators selected were considered relevant for biodiversity assessments in vineyard landscapes. This approach also provides a promising baseline to support sustainable management practices and options for other agroecosystems, derived from ecological models with increased predictive power and intuitiveness to decision makers and environmental managers.
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Rodents generate negative consequences for smallholder farmers in Africa that directly impact household and livestock damage, food security and public health. Ecologically Based Rodent Management (EBRM) seeks sustainable solutions for the mitigation of rodent damage through assessments of rodent population dynamics, agro‐ecosystems and socio‐cultural contexts. We adopt a comparative approach across three rural Afro‐Malagasy smallholder farming regions in South Africa, Tanzania and Madagascar to assess the household impacts of rodent pests and current perceptions and preferences associated with several rodent control measures. We conducted focus groups questionnaires and interviews in different study site locations. Rodents assert multiple impacts on Afro‐Malagasy farmers demonstrating recurrent and emerging agricultural and household costs, and public health impacts. We identify a significant knowledge gap in educating communities about the application of different EBRM approaches in favour of acute poisons that are perceived to be more effective. Cultural issues and taboos also have a significant impact on the social acceptance of rodent hunting as well as biological control using indigenous predators. We advocate for an enhanced investigation of the socio‐cultural beliefs associated with different rodent practices to understand the factors underlying social acceptance. A collaborative approach that integrates the perspectives of target communities to inform the design of EBRM initiatives according to the specific agro‐ecosystem and socio‐cultural context is necessary to ensure programmatic success. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
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Populations of carnivore species outside protected areas may be of considerable importance for conservation, as many protected areas do not provide sufficient space for viable populations. Data on carnivore population sizes and trends are often biased towards protected areas, and few studies have examined the role of unprotected areas for carnivore conservation. We used camera-trapping data and spatial capture-recapture models to estimate population densities for four sympatric carnivores: the African leopard Panthera pardus, spotted hyaena Crocuta crocuta, brown hyaena Parahyaena brunnea and African civet Civettictis civetta in Platjan, a predominantly agricultural, mixed land-use system, South Africa. Mean densities per 100 km^2 for the leopard were 2.20 (95% CI 1.32-3.68) and 2.18 (95% CI 1.32-3.61) for left and right flank data, respectively; spotted hyaena, 0.22 (95% CI 0.06-0.81); brown hyaena, 0.74 (95% CI 0.30-1.88); and African civet 3.60 (95% CI 2.34-5.57; left flanks) and 3.71 (95% CI 2.41-5.72; right flanks). Our results indicate that although densities are lower than those reported for protected areas, humans and predators coexist in this unprotected agricultural matrix. We suggest that increased conservation effort should be focused in such areas, to mitigate human-carnivore conflicts. Our study improves the knowledge available for carnivore populations on privately owned, unprotected land, and may benefit conservation planning.
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Comprehensive mapping of Ecosystem Services (ES) is necessary to understand the impact of global change on crucial ES and to find strategies to sustain human wellbeing. Economic valuation of ES further translates their biophysical values into monetary values, which are then comparable across different ES and easily understandable to decision makers. However, a comprehensive synthesis of methods to measure ES indicators in grasslands, a central element of many landscapes around the globe, is still lacking, hampering the implementation of grassland ES-multifunctionality surveys. To identify suitable and recommendable methods, we reviewed the literature and evaluated labor intensiveness, equipment costs and predictive power of all methods. To facilitate the translation of biophysical ES into monetary terms, we further provide an overview of available methods for the economic valuation of ES. This review resulted in a toolbox comprising 85 plot-scale methods for assessing 29 different ES indicators for 21 provisioning, regulating, supporting or cultural ES. The available methods to measure ES indicators vary widely in labor intensiveness, costs, and predictive power. Based on this synthesis, we recommend 1) to choose direct over indirect methods and ES indicators, 2) to use the most accurate methods to estimate ES indicators, 3) to take into account that one ES indicator can have implications for more than one final ES, and 4) to utilize the wealth of available methods and indicators to assess as many ES for ES-multifunctionality studies as possible, especially including cultural ES. Moreover, the overview of approaches that can be used for the economic valuation of different grassland ES shall facilitate economic ES-multifunctionality assessments. Thus, this methodological guidance will considerably support researchers and stakeholders in setting up ES comprehensive assessments and monitoring schemes in grasslands and shall ultimately help overcome incomplete or superficial surveys based on single or few ES only.
Chapter
Urban animal ecology is a rapidly growing research area, yielding fascinating insights into the patterns and processes that shape biodiversity in the city. However, much of this research has focused on cities in the developed world, where the mechanisms affecting biodiversity might be very different to those in the developing cities of the Global South. Here we detail how the contemporary cities of the Global South diverge from their Global North counterparts and explain how several key differences in pattern can have important consequences for urban animal diversity and ultimately ecological function and ecosystem services. Our focus in this chapter is on several key taxonomic groups, including, birds, mammals, herpetofauna and invertebrates, and incorporates a case study on urban predators, as well as some views on novel insights that can be gained from studying urban animal diversity in the Global South. Additionally, we synthesise the available urban animal diversity research from the Global South and explore how varying landscape patterns, distinct abiotic conditions, and vastly different socio-economic contexts can lead to greatly different outcomes for biodiversity in Global South cities.
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Mammalian carnivores are particularly relevant for ecosystem functioning, but for many Neotropical species, dietary information is scarce or unevenly sampled across their distribution. Understanding the influence of predator–prey body mass relationships on species’ diets offers an opportunity to predict the interactions taking place in real food webs and estimate the most likely interactions to take place in undersampled areas. We compiled quantitative data on the diets of 12 Neotropical species of Carnivora from 99 studies and investigated the performance of statistical models in estimating their dietary patterns using predator–prey body mass ratios as predictors. We fitted models at three levels: order; non-felids and felids; predator species. The consumption patterns of prey species were highly variable according to the body mass of predators, but we found a general consistency across species, with prey consumed more frequently usually having less than 5% of the body mass of the predator. Although our analysis suggests an overall pattern on the relationship between the body mass of predators and their prey, the predictive power of the model increased considerably when considering predator group (felid and non-felid) or species. This highlights that accounting for the variation in resource-use patterns between species improves the predictability of interaction patterns. Models using predator–prey body mass ratios as predictors can be useful to infer trophic interactions, providing a baseline estimation of the relative frequency of consumption of different prey by predators. This information is essential to plan and assess the outcomes of conservation initiatives aimed at maintaining predators and prey populations, ecosystem health, and prevention of human-wildlife conflicts.
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Rodent pests are especially problematic in terms of agriculture and public health since they can inflict considerable economic damage associated with their abundance, diversity, generalist feeding habits and high reproductive rates. To quantify rodent pest impacts and identify trends in rodent pest research impacting on small-holder agriculture in the Afro-Malagasy region we did a systematic review of research outputs from 1910 to 2015, by developing an a priori defined set of criteria to allow for replication of the review process. We followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. We reviewed 162 publications, and while rodent pest research was spatially distributed across Africa (32 countries, including Madagascar), there was a disparity in number of studies per country with research biased towards four countries (Tanzania [25%], Nigeria [9%], Ethiopia [9%], Kenya [8%]) accounting for 51% of all rodent pest research in the Afro-Malagasy region. There was a disparity in the research themes addressed by Tanzanian publications compared to publications from the rest of the Afro-Malagasy region where research in Tanzania had a much more applied focus (50%) compared to a more basic research approach (92%) in the rest of the Afro-Malagasy region. We found that pest rodents have a significant negative effect on the Afro-Malagasy small-holder farming communities. Crop losses varied between cropping stages, storage and crops and the highest losses occurred during early cropping stages (46% median loss during seedling stage) and the mature stage (15% median loss). There was a scarcity of studies investigating the effectiveness of various management actions on rodent pest damage and population abundance. Our analysis highlights that there are inadequate empirical studies focused on developing sustainable control methods for rodent pests and rodent pests in the Africa-Malagasy context is generally ignored as a research topic.
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Using domestic predators such as cats to control rodent pest problems around farms and homesteads is common across the world. However, practical scientific evidence on the impact of such biological control in agricultural settings is often lacking. We tested whether the presence of domestic cats and/or dogs in rural homesteads would affect the foraging behaviour of pest rodents. We estimated giving up densities (GUDs) from established feeding patches and estimated relative rodent activity using tracking tiles at 40 homesteads across four agricultural communities. We found that the presence of cats and dogs at the same homestead significantly reduced activity and increased GUDs (i.e. increased perception of foraging cost) of pest rodent species. However, if only cats or dogs alone were present at the homestead there was no observed difference in rodent foraging activity in comparison to homesteads with no cats or dogs. Our results suggest that pest rodent activity can be discouraged through the presence of domestic predators. When different types of predator are present together they likely create a heightened landscape of fear for foraging rodents.
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The presence of large carnivores can affect lower trophic levels by suppressing mesocarnivores and reducing their impacts on prey. The mesopredator release hypothesis therefore predicts prey abundance will be higher where large carnivores are present, but this prediction assumes limited dietary overlap between large and mesocarnivores. Where dietary overlap is high, e.g., among omnivorous carnivore species, or where prey are relatively easily accessible, the potential exists for large and mesocarnivores to have redundant impacts on prey, though this possibility has not been explored. The intertidal community represents a potentially important but poorly studied resource for coastal carnivore populations, and one for which dietary overlap between carnivores may be high. To evaluate usage of the intertidal community by coastal carnivores and the potential for redundancy between large and mesocarnivores, we surveyed (i) intertidal prey abundance (crabs and fish) and (ii) the abundance and activity of large carnivores (predominantly black bears) and mesocarnivores (raccoons and mink) in an area with an intact carnivore community in coastal British Columbia, Canada. Overall carnivore activity was strongly related to intertidal prey availability. Notably, this relationship was not contingent on carnivore species identity, suggestive of redundancy–high intertidal prey availability was associated with either greater large carnivore activity or greater mesocarnivore activity. We then compared intertidal prey abundances in this intact system, in which bears dominate, with those in a nearby system where bears and other large carnivores have been extirpated, and raccoons are the primary intertidal predator. We found significant similarities in intertidal species abundances, providing additional evidence for redundancy between large (bear) and mesocarnivore (raccoon) impacts on intertidal prey. Taken together, our results indicate that intertidal prey shape habitat use and competition among coastal carnivores, and raise the interesting possibility of redundancy between mesocarnivores and large carnivores in their role as intertidal top predators.
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Free-roaming dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are of public health and conservation concern because of their potential to transmit diseases, such as rabies, to both people and wildlife. Understanding domestic dog population dynamics and how they could potentially be impacted by interventions, such as rabies vaccination, is vital for such disease control efforts. For four years, we measured demographic data on 2,649 free-roaming domestic dogs in four rural villages in Tanzania: two villages with and two without a rabies vaccination campaign. We examined the effects of body condition, sex, age and village on survivorship and reproduction. Furthermore, we compared sources of mortality among villages. We found that adult dogs (>12mos) had higher survival than puppies in all villages. We observed a male-biased sex ratio across all age classes. Overall survival in one non-vaccination village was lower than in the other three villages, all of which had similar survival probabilities. In all villages, dogs in poor body condition had lower survival than dogs in ideal body condition. Sickness and spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) predation were the two main causes of dog death. Within vaccination villages, vaccinated dogs had higher survivorship than unvaccinated dogs. Dog population growth, however, was similar in all the villages suggesting village characteristics and ownership practices likely have a greater impact on overall dog population dynamics than vaccination. Free-roaming domestic dogs in rural communities exist in the context of their human owners as well as the surrounding wildlife. Our results did not reveal a clear effect of vaccination programs on domestic dog population dynamics. An investigation of the role of dogs and their care within these communities could provide additional insight for planning and implementing rabies control measures such as mass dog vaccination.
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This report provides an overview of the impact of feral cats Felis catus on native fauna of the Pacific region, with particular reference to Australia and its island territories. In Australia, cats take a wide variety of native species of mammals, birds and reptiles, but show evident preference for young rabbits or small marsupials where these are available. Reptiles are taken primarily in arid habitats, while birds often feature predominantly in the diet of cats on islands. Despite their catholic diet, population-level impacts of feral cats on native fauna have been poorly documented. There is considerable potential for competition to occur between cats and carnivorous species such as quolls and raptors, but no critical evidence has yet been adduced. There is also potential for amensal impacts to occur, either via transmission of the pseudophyllidean tapeworm Spirometra erinacei or of the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii, but evidence for deleterious effects in free-living animals is not compelling. Direct predatory impacts have been inferred from anecdotal and historical evidence, more strongly from failed attempts to reintroduce native species to their former ranges, and most critically from the decimation of island faunas and responses of prey species following experimental removal of cats or reduction of cat numbers. Attributes of the biology of feral cats and their prey species derived from the literature review were used to develop a rank-scoring system to assess the susceptibility of native species to cat predation. Species listed federally as endangered or vulnerable were designated as being at zero, low or high risk of impact from cats according to their attribute scores, and their distributions mapped from primary sources and actual locality data. Based on the number of threatened species they contain, localities and regions within Australia were placed in order of priority for future research to clarify the precise impacts of feral cats. Although difficult and expensive to carry out, controlled and replicated field removal experiments are recommended to elucidate cat impacts in all mainland areas. Removal of cats should take place also on offshore islands and island territories, but only if pilot studies show that this will not release populations of alternative predator species such as introduced rats. If release appears likely, cats should be removed only as a component of an integrated control program that targets all relevant predators.
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Biological control, the management of pests by the use of living organisms, has a long history of application to agriculture around the world. However, the effective use of beneficial organisms is constrained by environmental, legal, and economic restrictions, forcing researchers to adopt increasingly multi-disciplinary techniques in order to deploy successful biological control programs. It is this complex process, including the mindset and the social environment of the researcher as well as the science being pursued, that this book seeks to capture. Chapters reveal the experiences of scientists from the initial search for suitable control agents, to their release into ecosystems and finally to the beneficial outcomes which demonstrate the great success of biological control across diverse agro-ecosystems. Drawing together historical perspectives and approaches used in the development of biological control as well as outlining current debates surrounding terminology and differential techniques, Biological Control: A Global Perspective will be a valuable resource.
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Numerous sources provide evidence of trends and patterns in average farm size and farmland distribution worldwide, but they often lack documentation, are in some cases out of date, and do not provide comprehensive global and comparative regional estimates. This article uses agricultural census data (provided at the country level in Web Appendix) to show that there are more than 570 million farms worldwide, most of which are small and family-operated. It shows that small farms (less than 2 ha) operate about 12% and family farms about 75% of the world’s agricultural land. It shows that average farm size decreased in most low- and lower-middle-income countries for which data are available from 1960 to 2000, whereas average farm sizes increased from 1960 to 2000 in some upper-middle-income countries and in nearly all high-income countries for which we have information.
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Context. Rodent pests severely affect crop production, particularly in monocultures where one or two rodent pest species dominate. We predict higher species richness of native small mammal species in more heterogeneous mosaic (cropfallowbush) subsistence agro-ecosystems in Africa. Conservation and agro-ecological imperatives require that such diverse natural communities should be maintained and may benefit crop protection through limiting domination of pest species. Ecologically based rodent-management alternatives to rodenticides are urgently required and one such method (community trapping) is herein advocated. Aims. To provide baseline information on rodent and shrew communities in agro-ecosystems in three African countries and to demonstrate efficacy of ecologically based rodent management (EBRM) in Africa (e.g. community household trapping). Methods. Removal-trapping in a variety of agro-ecological habitats provided accurate small-mammal species lists. Intensive kill-trapping by rural agricultural communities was carried out experimentally where the efforts of communities were scientifically monitored by kill-trapping to measure impact on rodent numbers and the levels of post-harvest damage to stored grains. Key results. Our study revealed a high diversity of endemic species in agricultural habitats in Tanzania and Namibia (but not Swaziland) and the existence of undescribed and possibly rare species, some of which may be at risk of extinction from unchecked habitat transformation for agriculture. Treatment-control studies showed that communities in three African countries could effectively reduce pest rodent populations and rodent damage by intensive trapping on a daily basis in and around the community. Conclusions. Community trapping reduced pest rodent populations and damage to stored grains. Unlike the use of indiscriminate rodenticide, this practice is expected to have a negligible effect on beneficial non-target rodent and shrew species. Implications. Ecologically based rodent management approaches such as community trapping will conserve beneficial non-pest rodent communities and ultimately improve crop protection.
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1. Apex predators can benefit ecosystems through top—down control of mesopredators and herbivores. However, apex predators are often subject to lethal control aimed at minimizing attacks on livestock. Lethal control can affect both the abundance and behaviour of apex predators. These changes could in turn influence the abundance and behaviour of mesopredators. 2. We used remote camera surveys at nine pairs of large Australian rangeland properties, comparing properties that controlled dingoes Canis lupus dingo with properties that did not, to test the effects of predator control on dingo activity and to evaluate the responses of a mesopredator, the feral cat Felis catus. 3. Indices of dingo abundance were generally reduced on properties that practiced dingo control, in comparison with paired properties that did not, although the effect size of control was variable. Dingoes in uncontrolled populations were crepuscular, similar to major prey. In populations subject to control, dingoes became less active around dusk, and activity was concentrated in the period shortly before dawn. 4. Shifts in feral cat abundance indices between properties with and without dingo control were inversely related to corresponding shifts in indices of dingo abundance. There was also a negative relationship between predator visitation rates at individual camera stations, suggesting cats avoided areas where dingoes were locally common. Reduced activity by dingoes at dusk was associated with higher activity of cats at dusk. 5. Our results suggest that effective dingo control not only leads to higher abundance of feral cats, but allows them to optimize hunting behaviour when dingoes are less active. This double effect could amplify the impacts of dingo control on prey species selected by cats. In areas managed for conservation, stable dingo populations may thus contribute to management objectives by restricting feral cat access to prey populations. 6. Synthesis and applications. Predator control not only reduces indices of apex predator abundance but can also modify their behaviour. Hence, indicators other than abundance, such as behavioural patterns, should be considered when estimating a predator's capacity to effectively interact with lower trophic guilds. Changes to apex predator behaviour may relax limitations on the behaviour of mesopredators, providing enhanced access to resources and prey.
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Urbanization and economic development have made global agriculture increasingly differentiated. Many hinterland farms remain largely self-sufficient, while farms closer to markets become increasingly specialized and linked to agribusinesses. Both semi-subsistence and commercialized farms remain family operations, with the few successful investor-owned farms found mainly for livestock and crops processed on site such as sugar, tea and oil palm. Meanwhile, demographic transition drives rapid change in farm sizes, with less land available per family until non-farm opportunities expand enough to absorb all new workers. Asia as a whole has now passed this turning point so its average farm sizes can rise, while in Africa average farm sizes will continue to fall for many years, posing special challenges in both hinterland and commercialized areas.
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