Garbage in the diet of carnivores in an agricultural area
Keywords:Carnivores, diet, garbage, generalist species, synanthropization, human settlements
Human food waste is considered to be richer in carbohydrates, lipids and proteins than most natural food supplies; however, it is very well digested in scats. So, as an indication of this kind of food in the diet, we have used each indigestible, anthropogenic origin element found in faeces (e.g., glass, plastic, rubber, etc.). There are few studies discussing the importance of garbage in the diet of mammalian predators living in farmland; definitely, most focus on this issue in urban areas. We studied the contribution of garbage in the diet of raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), marten (Martes sp.), polecat (Mustela putorius), stoat (Mustela erminea), American mink (Neovison vison) and Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) in the agricultural areas of western Poland in 2006-2010. In addition, we examined the spatial changes in the diet of red fox and polecat. The largest contribution of garbage was found in scats of raccoon dog (8.8%), red fox (4.8%) and marten (4.3%). The diet of polecat, stoat and Eurasian otter contained 2.5%, 1.7% and 0.2% garbage items respectively. The most frequent item was plastic. Our analysis showed that garbage consumption by red fox and polecat was greater closer to human settlements. The results reveal a continuous gradient in the garbage consumption that corresponds with the degree of synanthropization of particular species.
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