Industrial landscape changes alter fine-scale mammal diversity and mammalian predator–prey dynamics in the northwest Nearctic

Date

2022-04-28

Authors

Aubertin-Young, Macgregor

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Abstract

Biodiversity has been heavily impacted by anthropogenic landscape changes associated with natural resource extraction. Terrestrial mammals, which disproportionately maintain ecosystem functions, are among the species most affected by anthropogenic landscape changes. In turn, it is important that we incorporate mammal conservation into natural resource extraction to mitigate biodiversity change, for which we must better understand the dynamics of mammal communities. I used data from motion-activated camera traps deployed in the northwest Nearctic to investigate two aspects of mammal communities: how the environment shapes fine-scale mammal diversity and how mammalian predator species coexist. In my first study, I compared how well natural and anthropogenic landscape features explain fine-scale mammal diversity within and between six variably industrialized landscapes. I found that anthropogenic landscape features explain fine-scale mammal diversity better than natural features in heavily industrialized landscapes, where they may increase or decrease diversity. In my second study, I examined whether prey partitioning facilitates the coexistence of mammalian predator species in an industrialized boreal landscape. My findings suggest that sympatric predator species only partially partition prey, as some predator species had identical prey associations. Strikingly, though, I also found that all predators were positively associated with white-tailed deer, an invasive prey species made abundant by industrial landscape changes. Together, these findings reveal that industrial landscape changes significantly alter both the spatial distributions and predator–prey dynamics of mammal communities. This work can inform conservation and restoration strategies for slowing biodiversity change.

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Keywords

Biodiversity, Global change, Wildlife, Environmental change, Species diversity, Industrialization, Biogeography, Alberta, Boreal forest

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