Consumption of game and pest species by small-and medium-sized carnivores

Koen Van Den Berge, Sanne Van Den Berge, Timo Van der Veken, Jan Gouwy, Pieter Verschelde, Maxime Eeraerts


Ecosystem services are the contributions that natural ecosystems make to people. Mammalian carnivores can provide both positive and negative ecosystem services by consuming pest or game species, respectively. In this study, we determined the consumption of certain game and pest species for a guild of sympatric small- and medium-sized carnivores (European badger, red fox, European polecat, stone marten, stoat and least weasel). We found that game and pest species comprise a notable proportion of the diet, ranging from 0.0% to 12.6% and from 2.7% to 46.3%, respectively. Furthermore, for all carnivores we found that the proportion of pest species such as rats and voles (i.e., positive ecosystem service) was higher than the proportion of game species such as pheasants, partridges and hares, i.e., negative ecosystem service). Moreover, stoat and weasel did not consume any game species. This study gives a first overview of the potential ecosystem services through consumption of pest and game species provided by small- and medium-sized carnivores.


dietary ecology; Mustelidae; red fox; ecosystem services; game consumption

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