Context dependent effect of landscape on the occurrence of an apex predator across different climate regions

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In studies of habitat suitability at landscape scales, transferability of species-landscape associations among sites are likely to be critical because it is often impractical to collect datasets across various regions. However, limiting factors, such as prey availability, are not likely to be constant across scales because of the differences in species pools. This is particularly true for top predators that are often the target for conservation concern. Here we focus on gray-faced buzzards, apex predators of farmland-dominated landscapes in East Asia. We investigated context dependency of "buzzard-landscape relationship", using nest location datasets from five sites, each differing in landscape composition. Based on the similarities of prey items and landscape compositions across the sites, we determined several alternative ways of grouping the sites, and then examined whether buzzard-landscape relationship change among groups, which was conducted separately for each way of grouping. As a result, the model of study-sites grouping based on similarities in prey items showed the smallest ΔAICc. Because the terms of interaction between group IDs and areas of broad-leaved forests and grasslands were selected, buzzard-landscape relationship showed a context dependency, i.e., these two landscape elements strengthen the relationship in southern region. The difference in prey fauna, which is associated with the difference in climate, might generate regional differences in the buzzard-landscape associations.




Fujita, G., Azuma, A., Nonaka, J., Sakai, Y., Sakai, H., Iseki, F., … Miyashita, T. (2016). Context dependent effect of landscape on the occurrence of an apex predator across different climate regions. PLoS ONE, 11(4).

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