Increased mammal nocturnality in agricultural landscapes results in fragmentation due to cascading effects

Hila Shamoon, Roi Maor, David Saltz, Tamar Dayan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations

Abstract

Landscape conversion to agriculture is the primary cause for habitat loss worldwide. As partial mitigation, agricultural landscapes may be designated as ecological corridors due to their presumed habitability and permeability to wildlife. Behavioral changes following anthropogenic disturbance can affect species’ spatio-temporal activity patterns and modify interactions, and thus influence habitat preferences. Understanding how human activity affects wildlife behavior and how such behavioral changes scale up to the community may enhance the effectiveness of conservation schemes. We used camera traps to measure the activity of five mammal species along a disturbance gradient in an agricultural-natural mosaic landscape designated as a national ecological corridor. Wildlife diurnal activity was minimal around towns, where humans were active during the day. Nevertheless, predator activity increased near towns and at other sites of high disturbance. Although attracted to highly disturbed areas, predators avoided humans temporally by restricting activity to night-time, whereas prey activity relative to less disturbed areas was negligible. We conclude that perceived threat from humans during daytime combined with elevated nocturnal predation risk exclude prey species from large areas of an agricultural region designated as ecological corridor. Human activity may have triggered a cascading effect mediated by predators’ diel activity shifts, which reduced landscape permeability to prey. Our study underlines the need to consider wildlife diel activity patterns for conservation and environmental management planning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-41
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume226
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2018

Keywords

  • Cascading effect
  • Diel activity shift
  • Ecological corridors
  • Landscape modification
  • Permeability
  • Spatio-temporal patterns

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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