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PackerC

Research Abstracts Online
January - December 2011

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Biological Sciences
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior

PI: Craig Packer

Modeling Carnivore Coexistence in a Complex Landscape

In the natural world, species coexist despite what appears to be intense competition for limited resources. Although theoretical studies have revealed myriad mechanisms for coexistence, carnivores frequently suppress, exclude, or otherwise limit each other even when not relying on the same food resources. Theoretical approaches have not yet been applied to carnivore systems, revealing a need for deeper understanding about the mechanisms driving coexistence in complex systems. This project uses both empirical and theoretical approaches to investigate the mechanisms driving patterns of coexistence between lions, leopards, and hyenas in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. The central hypothesis is that spatiotemporal partitioning acts as a stabilizing mechanism promoting coexistence between these three species, whereas interference interactions serve as an equalizing mechanism. To test these hypotheses, the researchers will first quantify the magnitude and scale of spatiotemporal partitioning, then quantify the costs and benefits of interference competition between these species. Finally, they will use these empirical data to parameterize an analytical model to test hypotheses about the relative importance of mechanisms driving observed coexistence patterns in these three carnivores. Identifying the mechanisms driving lion-hyena-leopard coexistence can help explain the contrasting patterns of competitive exclusion seen with other carnivores.

Group Members

Patrik L. Dousa, Graduate Student
Margaret Kosmala, Graduate Student
Alexandra Swanson, Graduate Student