Hierarchical spatial segregation of two Mediterranean vole species: the role of patch-network structure and matrix composition

Ricardo Pita, Xavier Lambin, António Mira, Pedro Beja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

According to ecological theory, the coexistence of competitors in patchy environments may be facilitated by hierarchical spatial segregation along axes of environmental variation, but empirical evidence is limited. Cabrera and water voles show a metapopulation-like structure in Mediterranean farmland, where they are known to segregate along space, habitat, and time axes within habitat patches. Here, we assess whether segregation also occurs among and within landscapes, and how this is influenced by patch-network and matrix composition. We surveyed 75 landscapes, each covering 78 ha, where we mapped all habitat patches potentially suitable for Cabrera and water voles, and the area effectively occupied by each species (extent of occupancy). The relatively large water vole tended to be the sole occupant of landscapes with high habitat amount but relatively low patch density (i.e., with a few large patches), and with a predominantly agricultural matrix, whereas landscapes with high patch density (i.e., many small patches) and low agricultural cover, tended to be occupied exclusively by the small Cabrera vole. The two species tended to co-occur in landscapes with intermediate patch-network and matrix characteristics, though their extents of occurrence were negatively correlated after controlling for environmental effects. In combination with our previous studies on the Cabrera-water vole system, these findings illustrated empirically the occurrence of hierarchical spatial segregation, ranging from within-patches to among-landscapes. Overall, our study suggests that recognizing the hierarchical nature of spatial segregation patterns and their major environmental drivers should enhance our understanding of species coexistence in patchy environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-263
Number of pages11
JournalOecologia
Volume182
Issue number1
Early online date11 May 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016

    Fingerprint

Keywords

  • Cabrera vole
  • competition
  • landscape heterogeneity
  • patchy environments
  • species coexistence
  • Southern water vole

Cite this