Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Co-occurrence of meso-carnivores in a human dominated landscape in Mahrashtra, India. (#192)

David Carricondo Sánchez 1 , Abi Tamin Vanak 2 , Abhijeet Kulkarni 2 , Morten Odden 1
  1. Inland Norway University, Koppang, Hedmark, Norway
  2. Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Identifying factors influencing the distributions and interactions within the carnivore communities is particularly important in human dominated landscapes. In India, few ecological studies of wildlife have been conducted in such areas despite the increasing recognition of their conservation value. Nevertheless, recent research has revealed a rich faunal diversity in areas of high human population density. Within the carnivore guild, species differ in their ability to adapt to human influence depending on their degree of specialisation in habitat use and feeding habits. In our study, we investigated determinant factors for the occurrence and coexistence of meso-carnivores in an agricultural landscape in Maharashtra, India. We used camera traps to record the activity of Indian foxes, jungle cats and jackals during their most active hours (i.e. from sunset to sunrise).  We recorded 115 events of the target species during ca. 280 trapping nights from 40 camera traps located within an area of ca. 270 km2. Using co-occurrence occupancy models in a Bayesian framework, we investigated the relative influence of vegetation composition, agricultural crop types, domestic dog activity and distances to human settlements. We found that the activity of domestic dogs is an important factor influencing occurrence, and recorded differences among the species in the flexibility in their habitat use and responses to human influence. Future management actions in these landscapes should take into account the intra- and interguild interactions of the local carnivore communities, and be directed towards the conservation of native habitats embedded in human dominated land.