Interference interactions, co-existence and conservation of mammalian carnivores


* Corresponding author


Abstract.  The shift in emphasis from single species to ecosystem conservation is revealing how community interactions can potentially influence single species viability and conservation. Although there is much theory and empirical data concerning the dynamic consequences of exploitative interactions, there is still a very poor understanding of the effects of interference interactions. Recent studies, as shown in this review, have documented widespread effects of such interactions among mammalian carnivores. Harassment, loss of kills and intraguild predation have been documented in a wide range of species. The demonstrated effects also include avoidance of larger carnivores in both time and space and reductions in one species density or even total exclusion from certain habitats or regions. Our review of the literature thus provides a range of empirical examples that together demonstrate that these interactions have very important implications on carnivore demography. We believe that the effects of interference might differ strongly from the effects of exploitative competition. This is because interference might have the potential to affect population growth in an inverse density-dependent manner and thereby also reduce population growth at low densities, therefore increasing extinction probabilities. These factors need to be considered when planning future multi-species conservation. Further research into the temporal and spatial aspects of co-existence are required if diverse guilds and communities are to be conserved.