Tolon V., Martin J., Dray S., Loison A., Fischer C., Baubet E. (2012). Predator-prey spatial game as a tool to understand the effects of protected areas on harvester-wildlife interactions. Ecological Applications, 22(2):648--657.

No-take reserves are sometimes implemented for sustainable population harvesting because they offer opportunities for animals to spatially avoid harvesters, whereas harvesters can benefit in return from the reserve spillover. Here, we used the framework of predator-prey spatial games to understand how protected areas shape spatial interactions between harvesters and target species and determine animal mortality. In these spatial games, the "predator" searches for "prey" and matches their habitat use, unless it meets spatial constraints offering the opportunity for prey to avoid the mortality source. However, such prey refuges could attract predators in the surroundings, which questions the potential benefits for prey. We located, in the Geneva Basin (France), hunting dogs and wild boar Sus scrofa L. during hunting seasons with global positioning systems and very-high-frequency collars. We quantified how the proximity of the reserve shaped the matching between both habitat uses using multivariate analyses and linked these patterns to animals' mortality with a Cox regression analysis. Results showed that habitat uses by both protagonists disassociated only when hunters were spatially constrained by the reserve. In response, hunters increased hunting efforts near the reserve boundary, which induced a higher risk exposure for animals settled over the reserve. The mortality of adult wild boar decreased near the reserve as the mismatch between both habitat uses increased. However the opposite pattern was determined for younger individuals that suffered from the high level of hunting close to the reserve. The predator-prey analogy was an accurate prediction of how the protected area modified spatial relationships between harvesters and target species. Prey-searching strategies adopted by hunters around reserves strongly impacted animal mortality and the efficiency of the protected area for this harvested species. Increasing reserve sizes and/or implementing buffer areas with harvesting limitations can dampen this edge effect and helps harvesters to benefit durably from source populations of reserves. Predator-prey spatial games therefore provide a powerful theoretical background for understanding wildlife-harvester spatial interactions and developing substantial application for sustainable harvesting.

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