Main content area

Assessing caracal-prey interactions by spatial and temporal analyses

Mengüllüoğlu, Deniz, Ambarlı, Hüseyin
European journal of wildlife research 2019 v.65 no.4 pp. 54
Alectoris chukar, Apodemus, Capra hircus aegarus, Caracal caracal, Lepus europaeus, Sus scrofa, cameras, diet, forests, goats, habitat preferences, habitats, hares, hunters, mice, predation, predator-prey relationships, prey species, surveys, wild boars, wildlife, Turkey (country)
In this study, we assessed habitat preferences and temporal activity patterns of caracal (Caracal caracal) and several possible prey species in Köyceğiz Wildlife Development Reserve, south-western Turkey. We investigated whether wild goat (Capra aegagrus) is indeed the main prey of caracal and if there is evidence for excessive caracal predation on this ungulate as previously stated by researchers, wildlife wardens and hunters. Results of this 2249 camera trap-day survey revealed a high habitat segregation between caracal and wild goat (Pianka’s O = 0.2) and very high overlap between caracal and other prey species such as brown hare (Lepus europaeus), field mice (Apodemus spp.), chukar partridge (Alectoris chukar) and wild boar (Sus scrofa) (Pianka’s O = 0.8–1.0). Wild goats preferred steep slopes (Chesson’s α = 0.85) and associated narrow valley bottoms, whereas caracals preferred high flatland forests (Chesson’s α = 0.95). The overlap coefficients in temporal activity patterns of caracal and wild goat (Δ₁ = 0.50), and caracal and other prey species were moderate (Δ₁ = 0.40–0.59), and did not indicate strict predator-prey relationships based on temporal activities. The results of this study do not support a caracal diet based mainly on wild goat, due to their mostly spatial and partially temporal segregation. Other smaller prey species such as brown hare, rodents and chukar partridge can serve as better prey options due to their continuous presence in caracal habitat throughout the day and year.