Human Effects on Carnivores in Natural and Agricultural Landscapes

Hila Shamoon, David Saltz, Tamar Dayan

Land use changes over the past 100 years in Israel’s Mediterranean landscapes have had major impacts on wildlife species composition and activity patterns.
The loss of natural areas and limited connectivity between remaining natural fragments result in environmental stress and a decline in biodiversity.
Effective conservation of wildlife requires ecological knowledge and data collection in both natural and altered habitats. Since it is not possible to investigate every species in the system, there is a need to acquire information on key or umbrella species.
This research addresses the relationships between carnivores and habitat change, the factors that influence temporal and spatial population fluctuations, and the processes behind them, in both natural and agricultural ecosystems.
The research focuses on movement patterns and on habitat and resources preferences of five carnivore species: Golden jackal, red fox, European badger, Stone marten and Egyptian mongoose, in a rural-agricultural-natural matrix.
Carnivores are considered to have important top down effects on lower trophic levels. This group of top predator species is responsible for important ecological processes and community regulation. Since not all carnivores respond in the same way to landscape pattern due to a wide range of morphological, ecological and behavioral adaptations, we expect carnivores to show marked differences in their response to human altered landscape changes. These responses can be expressed by changes in their daily movements, migration routes, juvenile dispersal, or dietary composition.
A multi-species approach was used to address questions related to human landscape disturbance in order to provide important key facts that will help form fundamental strategic plan to ensure the coexistence of multiple species.
To achieve these goals, three non-invasive methods are used to study where species occur: remote cameras, scat transects and track plates. In addition, GPS radio telemetry collars will be used to track carnivore spatial use and temporal patterns.

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