Zoological Studies

Vol. 51 No. 4, 2012

Niche Relationships of Carnivores in a Subtropical Primary Forest in Southern Taiwan

Po-Jen Chiang1,*, Kurtis Jai-Chyi Pei2, Michael R. Vaughan1, and Ching-Feng Li3

1Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ., Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
2Institute of Wildlife Conservation, National Pingtung Univ. of Science and Technology, Neipu, Pingtung 912, Taiwan
3Department of Botany and Zoology, Masaryk Univ., 61137 Brno, Czech Republic

Po-Jen Chiang, Kurtis Jai-Chyi Pei, Michael R. Vaughan, and Ching-Feng Li (2012) Carnivores are at the higher trophic levels and have garnered much attention in conservation and management efforts. In this study, we attempted to understand resource partitioning among sympatric carnivores existing in a primary forest with minimal human disturbance in southern Taiwan by camera trapping after the disappearance of the top carnivore, the clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa). Niche relationships were studied in terms of habitat, diet, and time dimensions. Six carnivore species were recorded, but the Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus formosanus) was very rare. Canonical correspondence analysis of photographic rates and habitat factors of the other 5 carnivores showed that elevation was the strongest factor explaining the composition of the carnivore community in the habitat dimension. Carnivores could be divided into 3 groups. The low- to mid-elevation group consisted of the gem-faced palm civet (Paguma larvata taivana) and crab-eating mongoose (Herpestes urva formosanus) which had contrasting activity patterns and different diets; the mid- to high-elevation group consisted of yellow-throated marten (Martes flavigula chrysospila) and Siberian weasel (Mustela sibirica taivana). These 2 mustelids had similar diets, but Siberian weasels tended to avoid yellow-throated martens temporally. The Formosan ferret badger (Melogale moschata subaurantiaca) was more widely distributed along the elevational gradient. Ferret badgers partitioned resource use in either diet, activity patterns, or other habitat gradients from the other carnivores. Niche segregation and complementary resource use were observed in these 5 carnivores.

Key words: Activity pattern, Complementary resource use, Niche segregation, Sympatric carnivores.

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