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Habitat modification destabilizes spatial associations and persistence of Neotropical carnivores.

Boron, Valeria, Deere, Nicolas J., Hyde, Matthew, Bardales, Rocío, Stasiukynas, Diana, Payán, Esteban (2023) Habitat modification destabilizes spatial associations and persistence of Neotropical carnivores. Current biology : CB, . S0960. ISSN 1879-0445. (doi:10.1016/j.cub.2023.07.064) (KAR id:102735)


Spatial relationships between sympatric species underpin biotic interactions, structure ecological communities, and maintain ecosystem health. However, the resilience of interspecific spatial associations to human habitat modification remains largely unknown, particularly in tropical regions where anthropogenic impacts are often greatest. We applied multi-state multi-species occurrence models to camera trap data across nine tropical landscapes in Colombia to understand how prominent threats to forest ecosystems influence Neotropical carnivore occurrence and interspecific spatial associations, with implications for biotic interactions. We show that carnivore occurrence represents a delicate balance between local environmental conditions and interspecific interactions that can be compromised in areas of extensive habitat modification. The stability of carnivore spatial associations depends on forest cover to mediate antagonistic encounters with apex predators and structurally intact forests to facilitate coexistence between competing mesocarnivores. Notably, we demonstrate that jaguars play an irreplaceable role in spatially structuring mesocarnivore communities, providing novel evidence on their role as keystone species. With increasing global change, conserving both the extent and quality of tropical forests is imperative to support carnivores and preserve the spatial associations that underpin ecosystem stability and resilience. [Abstract copyright: Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.]

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.cub.2023.07.064
Additional information: For the purpose of open access, the author(s) has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising.
Uncontrolled keywords: occupancy modeling, jaguar, South America, mesopredator release, camera traps, mesocarnivores, habitat degradation, deforestation, co-occurrence, mammals
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Funders: Leverhulme Trust (
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Depositing User: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2023 15:21 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2024 23:13 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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