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MONITORING MAMMALS AT MULTIPLE SCALES: CASE STUDIES FROM CARNIVORE COMMUNITIES

Abstract
Carnivores are distributed widely and threatened by habitat loss, poaching, climate change, and disease. They are considered integral to ecosystem function through their direct and indirect interactions with species at different trophic levels. Given the importance of carnivores, it is of high conservation priority to understand the processes driving carnivore assemblages in different systems. It is thus essential to determine the abiotic and biotic drivers of carnivore community composition at different spatial scales and address the following questions: (i) What factors influence carnivore community composition and diversity? (ii) How do the factors influencing carnivore communities vary across spatial and temporal scales? (iii) At local scales, what are the roles of within- and between- guild interactions in structuring carnivore communities? I use carnivore distribution data from protected areas across the global tropics to understand how multiple biodiversity metrics track one another at the regional scale. At the landscape scale, I apply carnivore community data from India to understand how spatiotemporal interactions at the local scale influence carnivore distribution patterns at larger scales. Lastly, at the local scale, I implement a field study of carnivore community occupancy at Kasanka National Park in Zambia using camera traps to understand spatiotemporal patterns of distribution. I employ these studies to delineate the importance of scale in developing a theoretical and applied understanding of community ecology, monitoring mammals at the community level, and conserving carnivore communities. This research shows that carnivore conservation and biodiversity monitoring at the community level is both context-specific and scale dependent.
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dissertation
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http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
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