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Resource use by Neotropical terrestrial carnivores: general patterns and spatial variation

Grant number: 19/16025-9
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): December 01, 2019
Effective date (End): April 30, 2021
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology
Principal Investigator:Mathias Mistretta Pires
Grantee:Lívia Ribeiro Cruz
Home Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil

Abstract

The study of trophic ecology is essential to comprehend the role of a species in the ecosystem and to make predictions concerning its population dynamics. Carnivores play a central role in ecological communities, regulating the populations of prey and other sympatric carnivores through direct and indirect effects. Therefore, information concerning the trophic niche of carnivores is fundamental to understand how ecological communities function. Although there are many studies about the feeding ecology of carnivores in the Neotropics, the available information is sparse in the literature and different studies use different metrics to describe species' trophic niches. The main goals of this project are to build a standardized data base about the diet composition of neotropical carnivores and investigate resource use patterns of different carnivore species. Additionally, I intend to investigate how consistent are resource use patterns across the species distribution and identify the rules determining trophic interactions. Predator body size has a key role in determining prey consumption, influencing the frequency of interaction between the predator and different types of prey. Using generalized linear models I will investigate how body size determines the probability of use of different prey, developing a predictive model in which trophic interactions probabilities are estimated from the predator-prey body size ratios. Considering the importance of predators in ecosystems dynamics, understanding their patterns of resource use and the processes that drive those patterns is essential to comprehend the roles of predators in the structure and function of ecosystems and to support conservation planning. (AU)