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Oecologia

, Volume 101, Issue 1, pp 45–50 | Cite as

Local feeding specialization by badgers (Meles meles) in a mediterranean environment

  • Rosalía Martín
  • Alejandro Rodríguez
  • Miguel Delibes
Original Paper

Abstract

A case of local feeding specialization in the European badger (Meles meles), a carnivore species with morphological, physiological and behavioural traits proper to a trophic generalist, is described. For the first time, we report a mammalian species, the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), as the preferred prey of badgers. Secondary prey are consumed according to their availability, compensating for temporal fluctuations in the abundance of rabbit kittens. We discuss how both predator (little ability to hunt) and prey (profitability and predictability) features, may favour the observed specialization, as predicted by foraging theory. Badgers show a trend to specialize on different prey in different areas throughout the species range. It is suggested that changes in prey features can reverse the badger feeding strategy at the population level. Such dynamic behavioural responses make difficult to label badgers as generalists or specialists at the species level.

Key words

Feeding strategy Local specialization Prey features Meles 

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Copyright information

© Springer Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rosalía Martín
    • 1
  • Alejandro Rodríguez
    • 1
  • Miguel Delibes
    • 1
  1. 1.Estación Biológica de DoñanaCSICSevillaSpain

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