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Virgos, E.; Travaini, A.
Relationship between small-game hunting and carnivore diversity in central Spain
2005  Biodiversity and Conservation (14): 3475-3486

Small-game hunting plays an important economic role in central Spain and some game species are key food resources for threatened predators. Small carnivores may reduce numbers of important game species. To alleviate predation pressure on game populations, management is often focused on predator control. Control methods can be non-selective, and so could potentially have a negative impact on non-target carnivore species, affecting carnivore guild composition and diversity. Using data on carnivore diversity in 70 quadrants (5 x 5 km) in a large area of central Spain with two main land uses (small-game hunting and a mixture of big-game hunting and forestry), we assessed how game management was related to carnivore diversity. Carnivore species richness was significantly lower in those areas managed for small-game hunting than in areas where other land uses predominated. The apparently least affected species by predator control was the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), the main target species of predator control. Results suggested that low carnivore species richness was linked to small-game hunting activities, which was probably associated with non-selective predator control practices. Therefore, in order to reconcile carnivore conservation and economic goals it is imperative to develop and to evaluate selective predator control techniques.

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