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Popular Science: Carnivores in the shadow of bigger and more famous colleagues. How do foxes, badgers and martens live?

In recent years we can see the return of big carnivores into Central Europe. Wolves, lynxes and bears are resettling the landscape and smaller carnivores are on the edge of interest. Therefore, a team of scientists led by Klára Pyšková from the Department of Ecology of our faculty focused on them.

Foxes, badgers, martens and weasels are common species in Czech nature, but a detailed knowledge about habitat preference is lacking. Therefore, scientists used camera traps in lowland regions along the Labe (Elbe) river. They put them into four different habitats: wetland, floodplain forest, mixed forest and shrubby grassland. Then, the authors investigated how carnivores used the habitats.

The most records were from wetlands, especially foxes, martens, weasels, stoats and also polecats and otters. The second most favourite place was shrubby grassland, relatively more for badgers and weasels and also for the quite exotic jackal. Badgers liked dry habitats (grassland and mixed forest). The floodplain forest was the least used, though polecats and otters and sometimes martens were captured there.

Investigated habitats. Source: Authors of the article.

Totally, nine species of carnivores were counted. Foxes have the highest numbers and relatively balanced occurrence in all habitats. Martens and badgers were spotted more frequently as well, while the authors captured other species only rarely.

Daily and yearly routines were investigated – fox activity increases from spring to the end of the year, the badger´s records fluctuated with the highest activity in April and October. Foxes and martens were more active during the day in summer and during the night in winter; badgers were always more active during the night.

From the results, it is obvious that selected species can live in a cultural and fragmented landscape and even thrive in it.

Pyšková, K., Kauzál, O., Storch, D., Horáček, I., Pergl, J., & Pyšek, P. (2018). Carnivore distribution across habitats in a central-European landscape: A camera trap study. ZooKeys2018(770), 227–246. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.770.22554

Author of the text (c) Tomáš Janík
Popular Science editor

Published: Jan 22, 2019 10:30 AM

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