Mammal Research

, Volume 61, Issue 3, pp 197–207 | Cite as

Landscape influence on the feeding habits of European badger (Meles meles) in arid Spain

  • J. M. Requena-Mullor
  • E. López
  • A. J. Castro
  • E. Virgós
  • H. Castro
Original Paper

Abstract

This study evaluates the influence of landscape on the feeding habits of the European badger (Meles meles) in the southern Iberian Peninsula and discusses some potential implications that the scenarios of climate change and land use and land cover changes proposed for this region could have on the diet of badgers. We particularly explore whether different vegetation types and land uses affect its feeding habits across three arid landscapes: maquia, xeric shrubland, and forestry. Although badger diet in Mediterranean environments has been described as frugivorous, in which the key food resources are wild or cultivated fruit (e.g., olives or figs), this species’ diet may vary in response to landscape composition, with individuals locally consuming different key items in an arid Mediterranean context. Based on the analysis of 252 scats collected monthly from June 2011 to May 2012, we found that diet significantly varied among the landscapes studied: Insects, carob, and small mammals were the key items in the maquia, figs, and oranges in the xeric shrubland, and earthworms and insects in the forestry. This shows that in an arid context, badgers adapt their diet to particular landscape conditions. Thus, our results support the important role of human activities, specifically the fruit orchards, in shaping badger diet and highlight the contrasting dietary differences of badgers, i.e., from an animal-based diet to one dominated by cultivated fruits when this type of crops are relevant in the landscape. In these circumstances and based on the proven effect of precipitation and land management practices on the food items identified here, we suggest that crop abandonment and less precipitation could reduce the availability of the badger’s key food resources, locally affecting its fitness and including local extinction where the habitats are extremely arid or crop abandonment is dominant.

Keywords

Meles meles Diet Frugivory Iberian Peninsula Drylands Land use Land cover 

Supplementary material

13364_2016_269_MOESM1_ESM.docx (19 kb)
ESM 1(DOCX 18 kb)
13364_2016_269_MOESM2_ESM.docx (18 kb)
ESM 2(DOCX 18 kb)

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Copyright information

© Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Białowieża, Poland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. M. Requena-Mullor
    • 1
  • E. López
    • 1
    • 2
  • A. J. Castro
    • 1
    • 4
  • E. Virgós
    • 5
  • H. Castro
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Andalusian Center for the Assessment and Monitoring of Global Change (CAESCG)University of AlmeríaAlmeríaSpain
  2. 2.Didactics of Experimental Sciences Area, Department of EducationUniversity of AlmeríaAlmeríaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Biology and GeologyUniversity of AlmeríaAlmeríaSpain
  4. 4.Department of Biological SciencesIdaho State UniversityPocatelloUSA
  5. 5.Biodiversity and Conservation Area, College of Experimental Science and TechnologyUniversity Rey Juan CarlosMóstolesSpain

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