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Data for: Perceived risk structures the space use of competing carnivores

Cite this dataset

Rodriguez Curras, Mauriel; Donadio, Emiliano; Middleton, Arthur; Pauli, Jonathan (2021). Data for: Perceived risk structures the space use of competing carnivores [Dataset]. Dryad.


Competition structures ecological communities. In carnivorans, competitive interactions are disproportionately costly to subordinate carnivores who must account for risk of interspecific killing when foraging. Accordingly, missed opportunity costs for meso-carnivores imposed by risk can benefit the smallest-bodied competitors. However, the extent to which the risk perpetuates into spatial partitioning in hierarchically structured communities remains unknown. To determine how risk-avoidance behaviors shape the space-use of carnivore communities, we studied a simple community of carnivores in northern Patagonia, Argentina: pumas (Puma concolor; an apex carnivore), culpeo foxes (Lycalopex culpaeus; a meso-carnivore), and chilla foxes (Lycalopex griseus; a small carnivore). We used multi-species occupancy models to quantify the space use within the carnivore community and giving-up densities to understand the behaviors that structure space use. Notably, we applied an analytical framework that tests whether actual or perceived risk of predation most strongly influences the space use of subordinate carnivores while accounting for their foraging and vigilance behaviors. We found that there was a dominance hierarchy from the apex carnivore through the meso-carnivore to the subordinate small carnivore, which was reflected in space. Although both meso- and small carnivores exhibited similar predator avoidance behavioral responses to apex carnivores, the habitat associations of apex carnivores only altered meso-carnivore space use. The biases in risk management we observed for meso-carnivores likely translates into stable co-existence of this community of competing carnivores. We believe our analytical framework can be extended to other communities to quantify the spatial-behavioral tradeoffs of risk.


This data was collected in the field using camera traps and a pseudo-experimental giving-up density experiment. See our publication "Perceived risk structures the space use of competing carnivores" for details.