Scientists recently discovered a unique pattern in Botswana’s carnivore populations by studying resource availability and intraguild species relationships.
First, what are intraguild species?
They are different species that eat the same prey. Think of how a fox and coyote might both pursue rabbits in the same area.
This relationship can lead to predation when a larger carnivore species kills a smaller one to eliminate competition and establish a hierarchy.
To avoid unnecessary conflict, smaller predators typically choose areas away from the apex predator.
But this was not the case observed in northern Botswana.
The researchers from Botswana, Virginia Tech, Penn State and University of Montana were surprised to find a positive correlation with the detection of intraguild species. In other words, the presence of a large carnivore such as a lion did not cause other predators to completely avoid an area.
This unlikely observation suggests that another location-specific variable might be a stronger influence in this ecosystem than in others.
Using the observations, the research group was able to create models to predict carnivore distribution.
These studies are important to understand the nuances of different ecosystems as conservation efforts are developed.
Source: Journal of Zoology