Master of Science (MS)
Environmental science; Biology; Wildlife conservation
Anthropogenic pressures such as habitat loss and hunting pressures have caused terrestrial mammalian carnivores to decline by 95–99% in many regions of the world. These species are especially susceptible to fragmented habitats and a diminishing food supply because of their slow reproductive rates and high metabolic demands. In biodiversity hotspots such as California, understanding the range of human impacts to species is critical. This project assessed carnivore species distribution and occupancy by placing remote camera traps in a protected Reserve, agricultural, and developed land use types. Mountain lions were only detected in the protected Reserve, and because of this coyotes and bobcats became the dominant predator species in the developed and agricultural land cover types. Coyotes and grey foxes exhibited forms of spatial and temporal niche partitioning to avoid the presence of mountain lions. These activity shifts between competing species has unknown effects on both the carnivore community and the ecosystem as a whole. All carnivore species, with the exception for opossums and skunks, were sampled more often in the mixed riparian forest habitat over any other habitat type. This indicates that human modified landscapes alter carnivore community structures both directly and indirectly. Wildlife biologists and conservationists can use this information to better manage for the coexistence of both carnivore communities and human populations.
Thompson, Logan, "Effect of Land Use Types on the Distribution of Carnivore Species in Santa Clara County, CA." (2017). Master's Theses. 4887.