Data from: Competitors and predators alter settlement patterns and reproductive success of an intraguild prey
Morosinotto, Chiara et al. (2016), Data from: Competitors and predators alter settlement patterns and reproductive success of an intraguild prey, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.r2rc8
The spatial distribution of predators is affected by intra- and interspecific interactions within the predator guild. Studying these interactions under fluctuating food availability, while taking habitat characteristics into account, offers a quasi-experimental set up to determine the relative impact of con- and heterospecifics on reproductive success of predators. We analyzed the settlement decisions and reproductive success of Eurasian pygmy owls (Glaucidium passerinum) in the presence of both breeding conspecifics and their competitor and intraguild predator, Tengmalm's owls (Aegolius funereus), under fluctuating abundance of their primary prey (voles). We used detailed data, collected across 11 years in a large study area (1300 km²), on the spatial and temporal variation of habitat characteristics in all available nesting sites, local densities of both species, and vole abundance. We found that pygmy owls strongly avoided breeding close to conspecifics but did not avoid Tengmalm's owl nests. Nest box occupation of pygmy owls was positively correlated to the proportion of old spruce, mature and old pine forests and farmlands, and occupation probability was higher at high vole abundance and in areas occupied in previous years. Pygmy owl avoidance of conspecifics decreased when voles were abundant. At high conspecific density, pygmy owls showed lower hatching success and delayed hatching date, in agreement with the observed spatial avoidance. Finally, even though breeding pygmy owls did not spatially avoid Tengmalm's owls, the density of heterospecifics correlated with low hatching and fledging success in pygmy owls. This suggests short term fitness costs when living close to competitors, even when lethal effects of intraguild interactions are subtle. Our results suggest that joint costs of exploitative and interference competition by Tengmalm's owls, as well as intraguild predation, were lower than those induced by intraspecific competition only. This result might be due to the similar body size between the species considered, Tengmalm's owls being only twice as large as pygmy owls. Interactions among con- and heterospecifics can therefore modify the spatial settlement and reproductive success of individuals on a landscape scale, also within the predator guild.