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Detecting species interactions using remote cameras: effects on small mammals of predators, conspecifics, and climate

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 05:40 authored by Lazenby, BT, Mooney, N, Dickman, CR
Effective conservation management requires an understanding of the source and direction of the many interactions that occur within ecological communities. Without this understanding, management interventions such as control or eradication of introduced species can have unexpected and undesirable outcomes. One of the challenges for wildlife managers is to garner relevant information for their site of management. In this paper we describe how images of mammals captured on remote cameras can be used to uncover behavioral interactions that can in turn help to identify and prioritize areas for more explicit research or management. Our cameras were set repeatedly at four sites over three years in Tasmania, Australia, and we used a series of generalized linear mixed models to interpret relative changes in count data of three species of small mammals: the introduced black rat Rattus rattus, and the native long-tailed mouse Pseudomys higginsi and swamp rat Rattus lutreolus velutinus. We also included two potential predators, the introduced feral cat Felis catus and the native Tasmanian devil Sarcophilus harrisii. We found that counts of the two species of native small mammals were correlated positively with each other, that swamp rats had a negative effect on black rats, and that black rats had a negative effect on the long-tailed mouse. Devils were important effects in most small mammal models. Despite their effect probably being underestimated by the remote camera survey method, feral cats were included in models for the long-tailed mouse. On the basis of the inclusion of native and both species of introduced mammals in long-tailed mouse models, we propose that the long-tailed mouse is a priority for further research. This research should clarify the competitive dominance and predatory pressure exerted by the black rat and feral cat, respectively, on this species, and also the potential for management of either introduced species to increase the impact of the other. We conclude that remote cameras can help to uncover cryptic or unsuspected interactions within ecological communities, and hence provide an informed basis for developing targeted research questions to increase the effectiveness of wildlife management.

History

Publication title

Ecosphere

Volume

6

Issue

12

Article number

266

Number

266

Pagination

1-18

ISSN

2150-8925

Department/School

School of Natural Sciences

Publisher

Ecological Society of America

Place of publication

Washington, DC 20036 United States

Rights statement

Copyright 2015 Lazenby et al. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Assessment and management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems