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The structure of a community of carnivores in the western cordillera cantabrica spain



The structure of a community of carnivores in the western cordillera cantabrica spain



Terre et la Vie 37(2): 145-160



Aspects of the structure of a community of carnivorous mammals in the western Cordillera Cantabrica (Eastern Galicia, Spain) are discussed. This community is made up of wolf (Canis lupus), fox (Vulpes vulpes), badger (Meles meles), otter (Lutra lutra), weasel (Mustela nivalis), matrten (Martes martes), genet (Genetta genetta) and wildcat (Felis silvestris). The dietary investigation is based on the analysis of scats and stomach contents. The evaluation of the niche breadth and niche overlap of these predators shows that their co-existence in the community if favored by a high degree of specialization, their difference in size also contributing to the differences in the preferred size of their prey. Principal components analysis was applied to data summarizing the dietary information obtained to identify the most important factors influencing the structure of the community. The most discriminating variables are habitat use prey selection and in some instances hunting tactics. Each of the species is plotted with respect to the 3 principal axis, which together account for 75.7% of the total variance. The structural characteristics of the community are discussed with respect to seasonal changes in the environment and its resources, the heterogeneity of the area, the characteristics of its fauna and the conclusions are related to certain tenets of niche theory.

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