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Estimating the intensity of use by interacting predators and prey using camera traps
- Keim, Jonah L., Lele, Subhash R., DeWitt, Philip D., Fitzpatrick, J. Jeremy, Jenni, Noemie S.
- The journal of animal ecology 2019 v.88 no.5 pp. 690-701
- Canis lupus, Odocoileus virginianus, Rangifer tarandus caribou, animal communities, animal transport, cameras, climatic factors, data collection, deer, ecosystems, habitat conservation, human development, humans, landscapes, models, oils, predator-prey relationships, predators, prey species, resource management, space and time, surveys, travel, wolves
- Understanding how organisms distribute themselves in response to interacting species, ecosystems, climate, human development and time is fundamental to ecological study and practice. A measure to quantify the relationship among organisms and their environments is intensity of use: the rate of use of a specific resource in a defined unit of time. Estimating the intensity of use differs from estimating probabilities of occupancy or selection, which can remain constant even when the intensity of use varies. We describe a method to evaluate the intensity of use across conditions that vary in both space and time. We demonstrate its application on a large mammal community where linear developments and human activity are conjectured to influence the interactions between white‐tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and wolves (Canis lupus) with possible consequences on threatened woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou). We collect and quantify intensity of use data for multiple, interacting species with the goal of assessing management efficacy, including a habitat restoration strategy for linear developments. We test whether blocking linear developments by spreading logs across a 200‐m interval can be applied as an immediate mitigation to reduce the intensities of use by humans, predator and prey species in a boreal caribou range. We deployed camera traps on linear developments with and without restoration treatments in a landscape exposed to both timber and oil development. We collected a three‐year dataset and employed spatial recurrent event models to analyse intensity of use by an interacting human and large mammal community across a range of environmental and climatic conditions. Spatial recurrent event models revealed that intensity of use by humans influenced the intensity of use by all five large mammal species evaluated, and the intensities of use by wolves and deer were inextricably linked in space and time. Conditions that resist travel on linear developments had a strong negative effect on the intensity of human and large mammal use. Mitigation strategies that resist, or redirect, animal travel on linear developments can reduce the effects of resource development on interacting human and predator–prey interactions. Our approach is easily applied to other continuous time point‐based survey methodologies and shows that measuring the intensity of use within animal communities can help scientists monitor, mitigate and understand ecological states and processes.