Diet of otters(Lutra lutra) in various habitat types in the Pannonian biogeographical region compared to other regions of Europe
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Knowledge of the effect of habitat type and region on diet and feeding behaviours of a species facilitates a better understanding of factors impacting populations, which contributes to effective conservation management. Using spraint analysis and relative frequency of occurrence data from the literature, we described the dietary patterns of Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra) in 23 study sites within the Pannonian biogeographical region in Hungary. Our results indicated that diet composition varied by habitat type and is therefore context dependant. The differences among habitat types were however lower than expected. We noticed a decline in the fish consumption with a concomitant increase in trophic niche breadth and amphibian consumption in rivers, ponds (fish farms), backwaters, marshes and small watercourses. The main differences in diet were not attributed to the consumption of primary and secondary food types (fish and amphibians), but rather to differences in other, less important food types (mammals, birds). Using hierarchical cluster analysis, rivers and ponds could clearly be separated from other habitat types. We found the main fish diet of otters in most of these areas consisted of small (<100 g), eurytopic, littoral and non-native, mostly invasive species. Dietary studies from 91 sites in six European biogeographical regions showed that fish are consumed most frequently in the Atlantic and Boreal, less in the Continental and Pannonian, and least in the Alpine and Mediterranean regions. Comparative analysis indicated that the Mediterranean region (with frequent crayfish consumption) and Alpine region (frequent amphibian consumption) cluster separate from the other regions.
- RESEARCH: Somers M