Experimental evidence of competitive release in sympatric carnivores

Lain D. Trewby, Gavin J. Wilson, Richard J. Delahay, Neil Walker, Richard Young, John Davison, Chris Cheeseman, Pete A. Robertson, Martyn Lee Gorman, Robbie A. McDonald

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    49 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Changes in the relative abundance of sympatric carnivores can have far-reaching ecological consequences, including the precipitation of trophic cascades and species declines. While such observations are compelling, experimental evaluations of interactions among carnivores remain scarce and are both logistically and ethically challenging. Carnivores are nonetheless a particular focus of management practices owing to their roles as predators of livestock and as vectors and reservoirs of zoonotic diseases. Here, we provide evidence from a replicated and controlled experiment that culling Eurasian badgers Meles meles for disease control was associated with increases in red fox 2 Vulpes vulpes densities of 1.6-2.3 foxes km(-2). This unique experiment demonstrates the importance of intraguild relations in determining species abundance and of assessing the wider consequences of intervention in predator populations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)170-172
    Number of pages3
    JournalBiology Letters
    Volume4
    Issue number2
    Early online date18 Dec 2007
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2008

    Keywords

    • badger
    • culling
    • ecological processes
    • mesopredator release
    • predator removal
    • tuberculosis
    • foxes vulpes-vulpes
    • red foxes
    • predation
    • Australia
    • Britain
    • prey

    Cite this

    Trewby, L. D., Wilson, G. J., Delahay, R. J., Walker, N., Young, R., Davison, J., Cheeseman, C., Robertson, P. A., Gorman, M. L., & McDonald, R. A. (2008). Experimental evidence of competitive release in sympatric carnivores. Biology Letters, 4(2), 170-172. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2007.0516