Teixeira, D., Guillera‐Arroita, G., Hilário, R., Fonseca, C. & Rosalino, L.M. (2020) Influence of life‐history traits on the occurrence of carnivores within exotic Eucalyptus plantations.Diversity and Distributions, 26(9), 1071-1082. DOI:10.1111/ddi.13114 (IF2019 3,993; Q1 Ecology)
The world's forested area has been declining, especially in developing countries. In contrast, forest plantations are increasing, particularly exotic Eucalyptus plantations, which cover nowadays over 20 million ha worldwide. This global landscape change affects native communities, especially those at higher trophic levels that are affected by bottom–up cascading effects, such as carnivores. We seek to identify the general life‐history traits of mammalian carnivore species that use exotic Eucalyptus plantations.
We reviewed 55 studies reporting carnivore presence in Eucalyptus plantations worldwide.
We consider seven species life‐history traits (generation length, social behaviour, body mass, energetic trophic level, diet diversity, habitat generalist/specialist and locomotion mode) as candidate drivers. We used generalized linear mixed models, with life‐history traits as fixed factors, and study as well as carnivore species as random factors. We obtained the carnivore occurrence data from the literature (detection of 42 different species, from seven families). We considered non‐detected species those with an IUCN Red List of Threatened Species estimated distribution range overlapping with the study areas, but not recorded by the studies.
While we found no evidence of an effect of any of the other life‐history traits tested, our modelling procedure indicated that habitat generalist species are more likely to use Eucalyptus forests than specialist species.
Our results, therefore, confirm an impoverishment of predator communities in disturbed environments, with the exclusion of the most specialist predators, leading to fragmentation of their populations and, ultimately contributing to their local extinction. The local extinction of specialist carnivores may lead to “functional homogenization” of communities within plantations, modifying ecosystem functioning with a negative impact on plantations’ productivity, profitability and services.