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This is how animals are related in the city when there are no humans – CVBJ

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This is how animals are related in the city when there are no humans – CVBJ

07/01/2022

At 09:18 CET

Ramon Diaz

How do animals in cities relate to each other when there are no humans? Thanks to tens of thousands of photos taken by 150 cameras installed in private parks in Berlin, A team of scientists analyzed the ecological relationships between samples from four species: two native wild species, the fox (foxes) and porcelain (Tuesday Voyna); Invader raccoonProcyon Lotor); and another, domestic, cat (Patas). And all this combined with the disruption modified by the quarantine and confinement caused by COVID-19. Spoiler Attention: Rule of Cats.

avoiding, confronting, eating, eating, competing, benefiting, or cooperating … Wild animal communities are organized around Interactions that occur when they share a living space. urban environments represent a special case, since then Human presence and its impact often greatly alter the rules of the environmental game.

How are wild carnivores related to the city? Has quarantine affected your behavior? To answer these questions, a team of scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Research in Zoology and Wildlife (Leibniz-IZW) installed about 150 cameras in the gardens of various houses in Berlin, with the cooperation and permission of their neighbors, who subsequently participated in the Citizen Science Project. The aim is to analyze the behavior of foxes, raccoons, fish and cats.

Private gardens, meeting places

The research is part of the Citizen Project “Wildlife Researchers”, led by Stephanie Kramer-Schhaad, a scientist at Leibniz-IZW (Germany), and ran from fall 2018 to the same season in 2020. The results have just been published. To appear in the Journal of Animal Ecology.

raccoon | FJ Garcia

Scientists chose city parks as a field of study for their ability to attract and frighten wild animals. By serving doubly as a potential food source and meeting place, with both humans and pets.

The researchers combined camera-recorded images with available information on the size of the parks, the amount of vegetation cover, potential sources of food, the height of the fences, and population density.

In each sampling period (five different, each lasting a month), the cameras captured about 2,200 and 3,000 cats, 300 to 1,200 red foxes, 200 to 1,000 raccoons, and 50 to 300 cm. They also took several photos of other mammals unrelated to the study.

“We were interested in how highly flexible and adaptable carnivores species interact with spacetime in human-controlled environments,” explains Julie Louferre, from the Technical University of Berlin (Germany) and first author of the study. “We wanted to know if they used the same places, and if so, if they were avoided between species by going at different times of the day or night., for example & rdquor; , Continue.

More animal activity in the fall

The search group found it Seasons and quarantines caused by the coronavirus pandemic ‘very much’ affect the frequency of species registrationThey also found it Autumn is a season of much more activity For foxes, raccoons, fish and cats, Unlike spring.

During travel restrictions, Berliners used their parks more than usual during the day, forcing the animals to be more nocturnal. The presence of foxes, fish and raccoons increased in the gardens during confinement periodsThis is probably due to the reduced human presence in urban space,” the analysts point out.

red fox | Pixabay

And although these types of wild carnivores are somewhat accustomed to the presence of humans, Avoid confrontations with people, with its movements concentrated during the night, a period of less activity in the city.

The more foxes were observed, the same happened with raccoons and martins. And vice versa, because all three types use the same resources of the urban environment. But These types try to avoid each other: There is a delay between successive detections of different species in the same spaces.

The cat is the dominant type

A higher cat presence means more raccoon detections, as they use the presence of raccoons as a possible indicator of leftover cat food. On the other hand, martens and foxes did not appear frequently when cats were present, indicating, according to the scientists, that “ Hierarchy of the four species, among which is the dominant cat& rdquo;.

This claim is confirmed by another surprising finding from the study: Cats do not avoid other animals, no matter what time of day it is, although their body mass – an indicator of dominance in the wild – is usually less than that of foxes and raccoons.

cat | Pixabay

“Humans are modifying the behavior and way of life of wild species. Quarantine was a blessing, as it provided an opportunity to study what our savage neighbors are doing. When people suddenly disappear from urban space & rdquor; Kramer-Shad confirms. It was important because Human pressure is causing an “exacerbating effect” on the dynamics of society.

“Our research sheds some light on the rules that govern interactions in a medium-sized carnivorous community living in an urban environment,” Loferre concludes. One thing became clear: Pets dominate the local fauna, even on species that are relatively adapted to the urban environment.

Baseline study: https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2656.13635

Citizen Science Project “Wildlife Researchers” website (in German): https://berlin.stadtwildtiere.de/

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