Dietary shifts of the badger (Meles meles) in Mediterranean woodlands: An opportunistic forager with seasonal specialisms
Rosalino LM., Loureiro F., Macdonald DW., Santon-Reis M.
Accumulating publications on the feeding ecology of the Eurasian badger (Meles meles Linnaeus, 1758) in different habitats throughout Europe provide a basis for intra-specific comparisons, however, none has described their diet in cork oak "montado" woodlands, found in the southwestern extreme of the species' distribution. This study aims to understand how badgers use the available trophic resources in "Serra de Grândola" (SW Portugal) and is based on 450 scat samples collected between 1999 and 2000. Nine food-items were identified, 3 of which comprise 89% of the biomass ingested by badgers in the cork oak woodland: fruits (mainly olives, pears and figs), and adult and larval arthropods. Food abundance was measured, and was shown to fluctuate seasonally; the comparison between availability and consumption suggests that food selection is affected by the pattern of olive availability. These findings reinforce the accumulating evidence that badger ecology in many parts of Europe is heavily affected by local patterns of agriculture and reveal that in this habitat the badger is a generalist forager with seasonal specialisms.