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Data from: Females know better: sex-biased habitat selection by the European wildcat

Cite this dataset

Oliveira, Teresa et al. (2019). Data from: Females know better: sex-biased habitat selection by the European wildcat [Dataset]. Dryad.


The interactions between animals and their environment vary across species, regions, but also with gender. Sex‐specific relations between individuals and the ecosystem may entail different behavioral choices and be expressed through different patterns of habitat use. Regardless, only rarely sex‐specific traits are addressed in ecological modeling approaches. The European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris) is a species of conservation concern in Europe, with a highly fragmented and declining distribution across most of its range. We assessed sex‐specific habitat selection patterns for the European wildcat, at the landscape and home range levels, across its Iberian biogeographic distribution using a multipopulation approach. We developed resource selection functions in a use‐availability framework using radio‐telemetry data from five wildcat populations. At the landscape level, we observed that, while both genders preferentially established home ranges in areas close to broadleaf forests and far from humanized areas, females selected mid‐range elevation areas with some topographic complexity, whereas males used lowland areas. At the home range level, both females and males selected areas dominated by scrublands or broadleaf forests, but habitat features were less important at this level. The strength of association to habitat features was higher for females at both spatial levels, suggesting a tendency to select habitats with higher quality that can grant them enhanced access to shelter and feeding resources. Based on our results, we hypothesize that sex‐biased behavioral patterns may contribute to the resilience of wildcats’ genetic integrity through influencing the directionality of hybridization with domestic cats. Our study provides information about European wildcats’ habitat use in an Iberian context, relevant for the implementation of conservation plans, and highlights the ecological relevance of considering sex‐related differences in environmental preferences.

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