Mumma, M.A., J.D. Holbrook, N.D. Rayl, C.J. Zieminski, T.K. Fuller, J.F. Organ, S.P. Mahoney, and L.P. Waits. 2017. Examining spatial patterns of selection and use for an altered predator guild. Oecologia DOI 10.1007/s00442-017-3971-8
Anthropogenic disturbances have altered species’ distributions potentially impacting interspecific interactions. Interference competition is when one species denies a competing species access to a resource. One mechanism of interference competition is aggression, which can result in altered space-use of a subordinate species due to the threat of harm, otherwise known as a ‘landscape of fear’. Alternatively, subordinates might outcompete dominant species in resource-poor environments via a superior ability to extract resources. Our goal was to evaluate spatial predictions of the ‘landscape of fear’ hypothesis for a carnivore guild in Newfoundland, Canada, where coyotes recently immigrated. Native Newfoundland carnivores include red foxes, Canada lynx, and black bears. We predicted foxes and lynx would avoid coyotes because of their larger size and similar dietary niches. We used scat-detecting dogs and genetic techniques to locate and identify predator scats. We then built resource selection functions and tested for avoidance by incorporating predicted values of selection for the alternative species into the best supported models of each species. We found multiple negative relationships, but notably did not find avoidance by foxes of areas selected by coyotes. While we did find that lynx avoided coyotes, we also found a reciprocal relationship. The observed patterns suggest spatial partitioning and not coyote avoidance, although avoidance could still be occurring at different spatial or temporal scales. Furthermore, Newfoundland’s harsh climate and poor soils may swing the pendulum of interspecific interactions from interference competition to exploitative competition, where subordinates outcompete dominant competitors through a superior ability to extract resources.