Poster presentation 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Food niche segregation between sympatric golden jackals and red foxes in central Bulgaria (#660)

Hiroshi Tsunoda 1 , Evgeniy G. Raichev 2 , Chris Newman 3 , Ryuichi Masuda 4 , Dian M. Georgiev 2 , Yayoi Kaneko 5
  1. Center for Environmental Sciences in Saitama, Kazo, Saitama, Japan
  2. Trakia University, Stara Zagora, Bulgaria
  3. Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
  4. Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan
  5. Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Fuchu, Tokyo, Japan

In Europe, the range of the golden jackal (Canis aureus) has expanded since the mid-twentieth century, but little is known about how it interacts with other sympatric carnivores. Among European countries, Bulgaria has the largest population of golden jackals, and jackal numbers have increased around two-fold during the past two decades, particularly in lowland habitats. Larger canids often competitively exclude, or even kill, smaller sympatric ones, especially when guild dynamics are in flux due to population re-establishment. We therefore investigated whether trophic niche segregation occurs between golden jackals and red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in central Bulgaria, where both species are sympatric. Because jackals are more abundant in lowland than in upland Bulgaria, we further investigated whether habitat elevation affects the extent of trophic competition. From the analysis of stomach contents of both species, collected from lowland and upland areas during hunting seasons between 1997 and 2009, we found no significant food niche overlap, and no elevational effects on trophic interactions. In lowland habitat, golden jackals mainly scavenged carcasses of domestic animals, whereas in upland habitat they consumed mostly carcasses of wild ungulates. In contrast, red foxes predominantly and consistently predated rodents in both habitats. This suggests that trophic segregation facilitates the coexistence of these canids under these prevailing population conditions. Nevertheless, we stress that as golden jackals colonise Eastern Europe, impacts on red foxes, and consequences for ecological communities, should be monitored carefully, especially in regions with less carrion available to support jackals.