Sunday, 31 January 2016

Forest-edge utilization by carnivores in relation to local and landscape habitat characteristics in central European farmland

Original Investigation
  • a Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Květná 8, 603 65 Brno, Czech Republic
  • b Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, Branišovská 31, 370 05 České Budějovice, Czech Republic
  • c Faculty of Agriculture, Applied Ecology Laboratory, University of South Bohemia, Studentská 13, 370 05 České Budějovice, Czech Republic
  • d Department of Ecology & Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, Palacký University Olomouc, tř. Svobody 26, 771 46 Olomouc, Czech Republic
  • e DAPHNE ČR – Institute for Applied Ecology, Senovážné nám. 1736, 370 01 České Budějovice, Czech Republic
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Rapid changes in agricultural landscape structure and composition affect many different farmland biotas, including carnivores, which are a key element of ecosystem stability, yet little is known about their distribution and habitat use. In this study, we evaluated how habitat characteristics on two different spatial scales (local and landscape scale) affected the forest-edge utilization by small and medium-sized carnivores in fragmented central European farmland. Based on an indirect method for detecting carnivores (scent stations), we sampled 212 forest fragments of different sizes (1–7864 ha) during April to May from 2006 to 2009. Our results indicate that carnivore utilization of forest-edge habitats was driven by landscape rather than local characteristics even though the overall extent of explained variation was small. The most important factors that determined response of the carnivore community were the area of farmland and that of urban land on a landscape scale. The corridor connectivity between small forest fragments and other spatial elements played a crucial role in the occurrence of red fox. Our results suggest that comprehensive studies on multi-species carnivore assemblage using scent station might be useful in evaluating species-specific response to habitat characteristics, especially if large numbers of stations visited by carnivores are available.


  • Carnivores;
  • Farmland;
  • Forest-edge utilization;
  • Landscape characteristics;
  • Local characteristics
Corresponding author. Tel.: +420 387775621; fax: +420 224911841.