, Volume 58, Issue 2, pp 149-155,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 14 Oct 2012

Habitat correlates of the Eurasian otter Lutra lutra recolonizing Central Poland

Abstract

The increase in Eurasian otter Lutra lutra populations in their natural range and recolonization processes are recently observed in several European countries. We address the process of otter recolonization and habitat utilization in Central Poland over 14 years. Field surveys in 1998 and 2007 documented increase in occurrence of the species. The frequency of positive sites denoted 15 % in 1993, 38 % in 1998, and 89 % in 2007. Otter occurrence at study sites was positively affected by river width while negatively affected by presence of buildings at the site and river regulation. During the most intensive colonization process in the 1990s, the habitat preferences of the otter did not change. However, the sites inhabited by otters after 1998 were characterized by lower river width and tree cover and were more often located on regulated river sections, suggesting change in habitat tolerance during expansion. The otter abundance in transformed habitats is a result of increasing population numbers and the necessity to inhabit suboptimal sections of watercourses. Thus, it seems that presence–absence data for otter populations cannot be considered a reliable indicator of habitat quality, being depended of the population density.

Communicated by: Andrzej Zalewski