Temporal resource partitioning mediates vertebrate coexistence at carcasses: The role of competitive and facilitative interactions
EntityUAM. Departamento de Ecología
10.1016/j.baae.2022.01.008Basic and Applied Ecology 60 (2022): 63-75
SubjectsCarrion; Circadian activity; Coexistence; Diel activity; Facilitation; Interference competition; Scavenger community; Temporal segregation; Medio Ambiente
Rights© 2022 The Author(s)
Esta obra está bajo una licencia de Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial-SinObraDerivada 4.0 Internacional.
Unravelling how biodiversity is maintained despite species competition for shared resources has been a central question in community ecology, and is gaining relevance amidst the current biodiversity crisis. Yet, we have still a poor understanding of the mechanisms that regulate species coexistence and shape the structure of assemblages in highly competitive environments such as carrion pulsed resources. Here, we study how large vertebrates coexist in scavenger assemblages by adapting their diel activity at large ungulate carcasses in NW Spain. We used camera traps to record vertebrate scavengers consuming 34 carcasses of livestock and hunted wild ungulates, which allowed us to assess also differences regarding carcass origin. To evaluate temporal resource partition among species, we estimated the overlap of diel activity patterns and the mean times of each scavenger at carcasses. We recorded 16 species of scavengers, 7 mammals and 9 birds, and found similar richness at both types of carcasses. Birds and mammals showed contrasting diel activity patterns, with birds using carcasses during daytime (mean= 11:38 h) and mammals mostly at night (23:09 h). The unimodal activity patterns of scavengers showed asynchronous peaks among species. Subordinate species modified their activity patterns at carcasses used by apex species to reduce temporal overlap. Also, diel activity patterns of vultures closely followed those of corvids, suggesting facilitation processes in which corvids would enhance carcass detection by vultures. Two mammal species (12.5%) increased nocturnality at carcasses of hunted ungulates, which could be a response to human disturbance. Our results suggest that both temporal segregation and coupling mediate the coexistence of large vertebrates at carcasses. These mechanisms might lead to richer scavenger assemblages and thereby more efficient ones in driving critical ecosystem functions related to carrion consumption, such as energy and nutrient recycling and biodiversity maintenance.
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Nested species-rich networks of scavenging vertebrates support high levels of interspecific competition Sebastián-González, E.; Moleón, M.; Gibert, J.P.; Botella, F.; Mateo-Tomás, Patricia; Olea, P.P.; Guimarães, P.R.; Sánchez-Zapata, J.A.