Large carnivore science: non-experimental studies are useful, but experiments are better

A short publication following on from some discussion regarding our previous paper “Can we save large carnivores without losing large carnivore science?”

Hopefully a few points have been clarified and it will encourage further reflection upon optimising both the conduction and utilisation of scientific research in order to better manage and conserve.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352249617300265

New publication in food-webs journal

I am very happy to announce the release of my latest co-authorship. A huge thanks to all the authors but in particular Dr. Ben Allen for bringing together such a well written piece, delivering such important messages.
While I am hugely in favour of large carnivore conservation I do think we need to be more careful about how we use scientific findings and ensure as far as possible strict well conducted science. I know all too well that logistics and a lack of funding can often make this very difficult but we should still aim to ensure the highest confidence in and most accurate use of scientific findings.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S235224961730006X

Latest wolf print article, 2016

In this latest article I talk about the role of humans in food-webs and how our everyday actions can affect wildlife at home and around the globe. We are not separate from nature, so I discuss how we can help improve our conservation efforts and understanding of ecological processes by including ourselves as part of the food-web.

wolfprint_59

Recent conference presentations

I’ve recently given some talks at the 2016 North Wales Mammal Symposium and the 2016 WEEN (Welsh Ecology & Evolution Network) conference. Both have been incredibly enjoyable and informative experiences. Sharing ideas, networking and hearing about other scientific work can not only be incredibly helpful but also very inspiring to help keep us motivated to do what we do.  Public events let people hear about what we do, help to spread positive messages, share knowledge but also hopefully inspires positive action on everyone’s behalf as well. For those interested in my abstract from the 2016 WEEN conference, I have attached it below…

Investigating intraguild suppression among Croatia’s carnivores.  

Peter, M. Haswell 1, Jones, K. A. 1, Kusak, J. 2 and Hayward, M. W.1

1Bangor University, 2Zagreb University.

 

Interactions between large carnivores and other species may be responsible for impacts that are disproportionately large relative to their density. The phenomenon known as mesopredator release is the resultant increase of mesopredator populations after a decline in larger predators. Intraguild predation, competitive killing and interference competition are common where niche and body mass between predators overlap. Interference interactions from larger carnivores pose risk to smaller mesopredators and have the ability to affect population demography in a manner that is not always density dependent. Apex predators may not always suppress spatio-temporal patterns, behaviour and densities of mesopredators. In some contexts however, suppression by apex predators can result in landscape scale distribution patterns between predators. Suppressive interactions between carnivores combined with bottom-up effects of environmental productivity can ultimately drive prey species abundance and the resultant ecosystem dynamics.

The mesopredator release hypothesis and the idea of larger predators suppressing smaller predators has received relatively little empirical study, particularly in Europe. Given the vulnerability of large carnivores to anthropogenic disturbance, a growing human population and intensifying resource consumption, it becomes increasingly important to understand ecological processes so that land can be managed appropriately. We present preliminary findings showing that in an area with minimal human interference (Plitvička Jezera national park), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) adjusted their foraging behaviour in response to a risk cue (wolf urine) suggesting presence of the gray wolf (Canis lupus). Additional investigations being undertaken to understand behavioural interactions between Croatia’s carnivore guild as well as the potential for anthropogenic interference will also be discussed.

Some snaps from the 2015 field season

As I prepare my departure for another summer of field work in Croatia I have realised how fast the year has flown by since I was last in the beautiful Plitvička jezera national park. I had a successful summer collecting lots of data from my foraging experiments examining how simulated presence of wolves affects the behaviour of smaller mesopredators (red foxes). Camera trapping continues along nicely as do our radio-telemetry efforts. We now have a lynx inside the park wearing a tracking collar and another in Gorski kotar. With the help of my little field assistant dog Alfred we also managed to track down some key wildlife spots and collect lots of scat samples for dietary analysis. Between my teaching commitments, a PGCERThe and my PhD i’ve been pretty busy but I thought it about time I managed to get some pictures up. Hopefully I won’t be so long in adding this years pictures. Enjoy!

Large carnivore impacts are context-dependent

 

I am very pleased to announce the pre-release (still to be copy-edited) of Haswell et al., (2016) Large carnivore impacts are context dependent. This review forms the first chapter of my PhD and will be going in alongside papers by some of the great scientists in my field for a special large carnivore issue of the food webs journal. Full text of the pre-release can be found here:

Haswell et al_2016_context dependent apex pred impacts_review

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