Dietary Analysis of Sympatric Mammalian Carnivores in the Keweenaw Peninsula

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Resource partitioning occurs amongst animals that share the same resources, such as food and space (Shoener 1974), and allows for their coexistence (May 1973). The different utilization of spatial, temporal, and trophic niches between sympatric species allows for their partitioning of resources (Jácomo et al. 2004). Difference in body mass is one of the factors that contribute to the coexistence of species in that different sized animals will generally eat different sized food items, therefore utilizing different resources and reducing competition (Wilson 1975; Jácomo et al. 2004). In the case of predatory carnivores, as predator body mass increases, the size of their prey increases (Gittleman 1985; Vézina 1985). Differences in body size allow for specializations in prey selection with smaller predators having greater maneuverability and bursts of acceleration allowing for a greater success in capturing smaller prey, whereas, large predators are capable of handling larger prey due to increased jaw size and bite force (MacNulty, et al. 2009). Nonetheless, large predators are capable of utilizing both large prey and small prey, while small predators are restricted to hunting smaller prey giving larger predators a “competitive advantage”. Through prey-size distribution, this advantage can be diminished allowing for their coexistence (Wilson 1975).
Mammalian carnivore species inhabiting the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan are abundant consisting of several large carnivores and a variety of mesocarnivores. These species include, in decreasing order of body mass, black bears (Ursus americana), gray wolves (Canis lupus), coyotes (Canis latrans), bobcats (Lynx rufus), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), fishers (Martes pennanti), and Ameri...

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