Data from: Competition and specialization in an African forest carnivore community
Mills, David et al. (2019), Data from: Competition and specialization in an African forest carnivore community, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.6fq3qv7
Globally, human activities have led to the impoverishment of species assemblages and the disruption of ecosystem function. Determining whether this poses a threat to future ecosystem stability necessitates a thorough understanding of mechanisms underpinning community assembly and niche selection. Here, we tested for niche segregation within an African small carnivore community in Kibale National Park, Uganda. We used occupancy modelling based on systematic camera trap surveys and fine-scale habitat measures, to identify opposing preferences between closely related species (cats, genets and mongooses). We modelled diel activity patterns using kernel density functions, and calculated the overlap of activity periods between related species. We also used co-occupancy modelling and activity overlap analyses to test whether African golden cats Caracal aurata influenced the smaller carnivores along the spatial and/or temporal axes. There was some evidence that related species segregated habitat and activity patterns. Specialisation was particularly strong among forest species. The cats and genets partitioned habitat, while the mongooses partitioned both habitat and activity period. We found little evidence for interference competition between African golden cats and other small carnivores, although weak interference competition was suggested by lower detection probabilities of some species at stations where African golden cats were present. This suggests that community assemblage and co-existence in this ecosystem are primarily driven by more complex processes. The studied carnivore community contains several forest specialists, which are typically more prone to localised extinction. Preserving the observed community assembly will therefore require the maintenance of a large variety of habitats, with a particular focus on those required by the more specialised carnivores.
Kibale National Park