Interactive effects of obligate scavengers and scavenger community richness on lagomorph carcass consumption patterns

Authors

  • Esther Sebastián-González,

    Corresponding author
    1. Departamento de Biología Aplicada, Universidad Miguel Hernández, Orihuela, Alicante, Spain
    2. Departamento de Biología de la Conservación, Estación Biológica de Doñana, CSIC, Sevilla, Spain
    Current affiliation:
    1. Departamento de Ecologia, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
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  • José Antonio Sánchez-Zapata,

    1. Departamento de Biología Aplicada, Universidad Miguel Hernández, Orihuela, Alicante, Spain
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  • José Antonio Donázar,

    1. Departamento de Biología de la Conservación, Estación Biológica de Doñana, CSIC, Sevilla, Spain
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  • Nuria Selva,

    1. Institute of Nature Conservation, Polish Academy of Sciences, Krakow, Poland
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  • Ainara Cortés-Avizanda,

    1. Departamento de Biología de la Conservación, Estación Biológica de Doñana, CSIC, Sevilla, Spain
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  • Fernando Hiraldo,

    1. Departamento de Biología de la Conservación, Estación Biológica de Doñana, CSIC, Sevilla, Spain
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  • Miguel Blázquez,

    1. Departamento de Biología Aplicada, Universidad Miguel Hernández, Orihuela, Alicante, Spain
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  • Francisco Botella,

    1. Departamento de Biología Aplicada, Universidad Miguel Hernández, Orihuela, Alicante, Spain
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  • Marcos Moleón

    1. Departamento de Biología Aplicada, Universidad Miguel Hernández, Orihuela, Alicante, Spain
    2. Centre for African Ecology, School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
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Abstract

Carrion consumption patterns in vertebrate scavenger communities may be influenced by several interacting factors. We assessed the effects of the number of scavenger species and the presence of obligate scavengers (vultures) on carcass detection and consumption times, and the structure (nestedness) of the scavenger assemblage by exploring consumption patterns of lagomorph carcasses provided experimentally. Carcass detection and consumption times were strongly inversely related to vulture presence, whereas scavenger richness had a low contribution, except when interacting with vulture presence. However, none of the scavenger communities presented a nested pattern, perhaps because of the small size of lagomorphs, which prevents large numbers of scavengers and interspecific interactions occurring at one carcass. Our results suggest that scavenger species richness, especially the presence of vultures, increases scavenging efficiency.

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