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Habitat selection models for European wildcat conservation

AuthorsKlar, N.; Fernández, Néstor ; Kramer-Schadt, Stephanie; Herrmann, M.; Trizen, M.; Büttner, I.; Niemitz, C.
Issue Date2008
CitationBiological Conservation 141: 308- 319 (2008)
AbstractPopulations of the European wildcat (Felis silvestris) are only slowly recovering in Central Europe after a severe decline in the last centuries and require specific conservation plans in many areas. However, detailed information on wildcat occurrence and habitat require- ments is still scarce and controversial. We present a fine-scale habitat selection model for wildcats based on detailed species and land use information and evaluate its accu- racy to predict habitat distribution in new areas. We analysed habitat use within home ranges using single locations of 12 radio-tracked individuals from south western Germany. Several competing models were fitted and compared using generalised linear mixed models (GLMM) and information-theoretic approaches. Radio-tracking data of 9 and 10 wildcats from two distant areas were used to evaluate the models. The selected model predicted habitat associated to close distance to forest, watercourses and mead- ows and a critical distance to villages, single houses and roads. To predict area suitable for home ranges we superimposed rules derived from home range attributes at a higher level of selection. Predictions from the combination of the fine-scale habitat model and home range rules matched well with more than 2000 wildcat observations of south- western Germany. We discuss the application of the model in wildcat conservation for finding potential reintroduction sites, identifying small isolated populations and aiding in the evaluation of the needs of mitigation and compensation within the scope of the European Habitats Directive.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2007.10.004
issn: 0006-3207
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