Landscapes of Coexistence for terrestrial carnivores: The ecological consequences of being downgraded from ultimate to penultimate predator by humans
Oriol-Cotterill A., Valeix M., Frank LG., Riginos C., Macdonald DW.
© 2015 Nordic Society Oikos. Fear of predation can have major impacts on the behaviour of prey species. Recently the concept of the ecology of fear has been defined and formalised; yet there has been relatively little focus on how these ideas apply to large carnivore species which, although not prey sensu stricto, also experience fear as a result of threats from humans. Large carnivores are likely also subject to a Landscape of Fear similar to that described for prey species. We argue that although fear is generic, 'human-caused mortality' represents a distinct and very important cause of fear for large carnivores, particularly terrestrial large carnivores as their activities overlap with those of humans to a greater degree. We introduce the idea of a 'Landscape of Coexistence' for large carnivores to denote a subset of the Landscape of Fear where sufficient areas of low human-caused mortality risk are present in the landscape for long term coexistence of large carnivores and humans. We then explore aspects of terrestrial large carnivore behavioural ecology that may be best explained by risk of human-caused mortality, and how the nature of a Landscape of Coexistence for these large carnivores is likely to be shaped by specific factors such as habitat structure, wild and domestic prey base, and human distribution and behaviour. The human characteristics of this Landscape of Coexistence may be as important in determining large carnivore distribution and behavioural ecology as the distribution of resources. Understanding the Landscape of Coexistence for terrestrial large carnivores is therefore important for their biology and conservation throughout large parts of their remaining ranges. Synthesis The Landscape of Fear concept describing the relationship between predator and prey also applies to the relationship between humans and top carnivores. We synthesise current research to introduce the Landscape of Coexistence concept, arguing that top predators respond to the risks of human-caused mortality through spatiotemporal partitioning of activities to reduce contact with people. The character of the Landscape of Coexistence may be more important than the distribution of resources in determining large carnivore distribution and behavioural ecology in human dominated landscapes. Understanding their behavioural responses to human threats is crucial to successful conservation of large carnivores.