Studies on the distribution of mammalian carnivores in fragmented landscapes have focused mainly on structural aspects such as patch and landscape features; similarly, habitat connectivity is usually associated with landscape structure. The influence of food resources on carnivore patch use and the important effect on habitat connectivity have been overlooked. The aim of this study is to evaluate the relative importance of food resources on patch use patterns and to test if food availability can overcome structural constraints on patch use. We carried out a patch-use survey of two carnivores: the beech marten (Martes foina) and the badger (Meles meles) in a sample of 39 woodland patches in a fragmented landscape in central Italy. We used the logistic model to investigate the relative effects on carnivore distribution of patch, patch neighbourhood and landscape scale variables as well as the relative abundance of food resources. Our results show how carnivore movements in fragmented landscapes are determined not only by patch/landscape structure but also by the relative abundance of food resources. The important take-home message of our research is that, within certain structural limits (e.g. within certain limits of patch isolation), by modifying the relative amount of resources and their distribution, it is possible to increase suitability in smaller/relatively isolated patches. Conversely, however, there are certain thresholds above which an increase in resources will not achieve high probability of presence. Our findings have important and generalizable consequences for highly fragmented landscapes in areas where it may not be possible to increase patch sizes and/or reduce isolation so, for instance, forest regimes that will increase resource availability could be implemented.
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|Titolo:||Interaction of food resources and landscape structure in determining the probability of patch use by carnivores in fragmented landscapes|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2008|
|Appartiene alla tipologia:||01a Articolo in rivista|