Secondary Ecological Interactions

Evidence from field studies indicates that the spatial pattern of home ranges within a species can also have knock-on effects on the spatial distribution of prey and competitors. For example, in northeastern Minnesota, white-tailed deer are found primarily in the 'buffer zones' (areas of low space use) that occur between adjacent pack home ranges. This negative correlation between the spatial distribution of wolves and deer arises as a result of differential predation rates between the interior of wolf home ranges and the buffer zones that separate them.

For the same reasons that within-species (intraspecfic) competition for resources often favors defense of a home range area against utilization by individuals within a population, between-species (interspecific) competition can favor individuals defending their home range against utilization by individuals of competitor species. This phenomenon occurs in the carnivore community of Yellowstone National Park. Prior to wolf re-introduction, packs of coyotes, usually 4-6 adults, occupied and defended contiguous home ranges across the landscape. However, following the wolf re-introduction, coyotes have radically altered their patterns of space use: the packs have broken up and individuals now move around individually or in pairs, restricting their movements in space and time to areas where wolves are not present. These kinds of interactions between the spatial distributions of home ranges in co-occurring competing species can have important consequences for animal conservation. For example, in Africa, efforts to conserve the endangered African wild dog have been complicated by their competitive interactions with lions and hyenas, which have prevented them from setting up home ranges in favorable habitats, reducing their survival and breeding success.

See also: Body Size, Energetics, and Evolution; Competition and Behavior; Demography; Habitat Selection and Habitat Suitability Preferences; Individual-Based Models; Optimal Foraging; Predation; Social Behavior.

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