European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 467–474 | Cite as

Testing mechanistic explanations for mammalian predator responses to habitat edges

  • Jana SvobodováEmail author
  • Jakub Kreisinger
  • Martin Šálek
  • Martina Koubová
  • Tomáš Albrecht
Original Paper


Increased predator activity along habitat edges (the edge effect) is often documented in the temperate zone, but earlier studies have rarely been able to explicitly test the suggested mechanisms underlining this phenomenon. In this study, we measured the distribution of mammalian predators by scent stations and their main prey (rodents) in four types of landscape elements corresponding to an edge gradient between two habitat types; grassland and forest. We found a contrasting pattern in carnivore activities between years. Whereas carnivores did not exhibit a significant occurrence along the forest–grassland edge in the first year with low prey abundance, they were more likely to be detected along habitat edges in the subsequent year with high prey abundance. Our results do not suggest that the increased activity of carnivores at habitat edges arises as a consequence of predator overflow from higher quality habitat through the edge into lower quality habitat, but showed that most predator species focus their activity specifically to the edge structure. On the other hand, our data do not provide straightforward support for the hypothesis that predator edge preferences are caused by a spatial gradient in carnivores’ main prey—rodents.


Edge effect Habitat fragmentation Mesopredators Nest predation Prey distribution 



We thank Šálek M.E., Mrštný L., Wonke O., and Kukač P. for their help with field work. This study was supported by the grant of the Czech Ministry of Education (MŠMT 6007665801, no. 1P05OC078 and no. 0021620828), the Research Aim of the Institute of Systems Biology and Ecology AV0Z60870520 and AV0Z60930519, Internal grant agency of Czech University of Environmental Sciences CIGA 42110/1313/3108, and the Grant Agency of the CR GAČR 524/06/0687. T. A. and J. K. were partially supported by the Research Centrum project no. LC06073 and the grant of the Czech Ministry of Environment (VAV sp2d3-60-08).

Supplementary material

10344_2010_455_MOESM1_ESM.doc (44 kb)
ESM 1 Visits of individual species to particular habitats. In total, 120 scent stations were randomly distributed within four habitat types (southern Bohemia in 2006 and 2007) (DOC 44 kb)
10344_2010_455_MOESM2_ESM.doc (30 kb)
ESM 2 Numbers of rodents captured along edge gradients in southern Bohemia, 2006 and 2007. In each habitat type, eight lines of 35 traps were installed (DOC 29 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jana Svobodová
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jakub Kreisinger
    • 2
  • Martin Šálek
    • 3
    • 4
  • Martina Koubová
    • 1
  • Tomáš Albrecht
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Ecology, Faculty of Environmental ScienceCzech University of Life Sciences PraguePrague 6Czech Republic
  2. 2.Department of Zoology, Faculty of SciencesCharles University in PraguePrague 2Czech Republic
  3. 3.Department of Zoology, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of South BohemiaČeské BudějoviceCzech Republic
  4. 4.Institute of Systems Biology and EcologyAcademy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicČeské BudějoviceCzech Republic
  5. 5.Institute of Vertebrate Biology v.v.i.Academy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicBrnoCzech Republic

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