Bodil Elmhagen


Publications: Abstract

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- About Fennoscandia

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In Swedish



Paws without claws?
Ecological effects of large carnivores in anthropogenic landscapes

Large carnivores are frequently presented as saviours of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning through their creation of trophic cascades, an idea largely based on studies coming primarily out of relatively natural landscapes. However, in large parts of the world, particularly in Europe, large carnivores live in and are returning to strongly human-modified ecosystems. At present,we lack a coherent framework to predict the effects of large carnivores in these anthropogenic landscapes. We review how human actions influence the ecological roles of large carnivores by affecting their density or behavior or those of mesopredators or prey species. We argue that the potential for density-mediated trophic cascades in anthropogenic landscapes is limited to unproductive areas where even low carnivore numbers may impact prey densities or to the limited parts of the landscape where carnivores are allowed to reach ecologically functional densities. The potential for behaviourally mediated trophic cascades may be larger and more widespread, because even low carnivore densities affect prey behaviour. We conclude that predator–prey interactions in anthropogenic landscapes will be highly context-dependent and human actions will often attenuate the ecological effects of large carnivores. We highlight the knowledge gaps and outline a new research avenue to study the role of carnivores in anthropogenic landscapes.

Kuijper DPJ, Sahlén E, Elmhagen B, Chamaillé-Jammes S, Sand H, Lone K, Cromsigt JPGM (2016) Paws without claws? Ecological effects of large carnivores in anthropogenic landscapes. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: 20161625.
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Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx)