Date: 12 Dec 2013

Intraguild Predation and Interspecific Killing as Structuring Forces of Carnivoran Communities in South America

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Abstract

Intraguild predation (IGP) and interspecific killing (IK) have been recently acknowledged as important ecological forces that could influence community structure. Not only can carnivores influence prey community composition, they might also impact the populations of other carnivores. The goal of the current study was to assess the role of IGP and IK as significant forces influencing carnivoran assemblages in South America. To this end, we compiled the available records on 35 species of terrestrial carnivorans in the subcontinent, to investigate the potential and actual extent of IGP/IK as widespread ecological forces. We considered potential intraguild predators those having >20 % range overlap and body mass 2–5.4 times greater than that of other guild members and likely-potential intraguild predators those that, in addition, were also hypercarnivorous. The potential number of intraguild predators for those species evaluated ranged from zero to 18 (mean = 5.35 ± SE 0.74). IGP/IK events (n = 116) included 52 pairs of Neotropical carnivorans, 13 of which were killers and 25 were victims. Confirmed intraguild predator species (n = 13) accounted for 37.1 % of the assemblage, nearly the same value predicted to be likely potential predators (n = 14). IGP and IK were highly associated with the hypercarnivorous felids, whereas victim species were most often the omnivorous procyonids and skunks. The results indicate jaguars, pumas, and ocelots as the species most likely to have significant impact on the guild. IGP and IK are not random and reflect widespread interactions that influence carnivoran community structure in South America.