This Friday, Wild49 lab member Dario Moreira will be defending his PhD thesis. His talk is open to the public and will be held in the University of Alberta Biological Sciences Building room CW313 at 9am.
Talk Summary: Mammalian carnivores inhabiting human-dominated landscapes often face reduced and more widely distributed in combination with greater exposure to humans and exotic species. I evaluated how habitat transformation and human activity shaped the spatio-temporal patterns of occupancy and prey selection of carnivores inhabiting a landscape dominated by exotic forest plantations in Southern Chile. Carnivore species responded to landscape attributes and the presence of domestic dogs. These effects were influenced by time of day as well as the spatial scale. For instance, the positive effect of native forest on occupancy probability was stronger during the night for the Darwin’s fox and cougar. Dogs negatively affected the occupancy probability of Darwin’s foxes, but this was independent of the time of day, compared to cougars, who were negative affected by dogs during day-time only. Vegetation structure derived from high-resolution LiDAR remote sensing systems improved the performance of occupancy models for mesocarnivores indicating that these species respond to fine-grained habitat heterogeneity. Prey selection of mesocarnivores differed between native forest and pine plantations and this was associated with changes in the abundance of prey species. The perceptions of carnivores by rural communities varied across species, with people being willing to adopt sustainable practices related to the husbandry of domestic animals, but they were unwilling to leash dogs or provide diurnal protection to poultry.