Spatio-temporal response of forest-dwelling chamois to red deer presence
Sympatric species with similar niches compete for common resources, often resulting in spatio-temporal avoidance. To date, little is known about the spatio-temporal interactions of ungulates in forested habitats. Using camera traps, we investigated the spatio-temporal responses of alpine chamois to the presence of red deer in the mountain forests of northern Croatia during the four seasons of 2018/2019. We hypothesized that chamois activity patterns should be affected by the presence of red deer, leading to either temporal or spatial segregation between the species. Our results showed that chamois tended to be more active during the day when red deer were absent, and showed contrasting patterns of activity across seasons, from bimodal to multimodal. However, temporal overlap coefficients between chamois and red deer were moderate throughout the study period, ranging from 0.57 in summer to 0.68 in autumn. Conversely, we found inconsistent/random occupancy patterns of chamois and red deer at different camera trap locations in different seasons. Our results are among the few available data on the interaction of these two species in forested areas and suggest weak effects of red deer on the spatio-temporal behaviour of Alpine chamois. However, finer-scale data may be required to better understand the relationship between these species.
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