Publications and Research


Esther Sebastián-González, Universidad Miguel Hernandez de Elche
Zebensui Morales-Reyes, Universidad Miguel Hernandez de Elche
Francisco Botella, Universidad Miguel Hernandez de Elche
Lara Naves-Alegre, Universidad Miguel Hernandez de Elche
Juan M. Pérez-García, Universidad Miguel Hernandez de Elche
Patricia Mateo-Tomás, Oveido University
Pedro P. Olea, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid
Marcos Moleón, University of Granada
Jomar M. Barbosa, Doñana Biological Station - CSIC
Fernando Hiraldo, Doñana Biological Station - CSIC
Eneko Arrondo, Doñana Biological Station - CSIC
José A. Donázar, Doñana Biological Station - CSIC
Ainara Cortés-Avizanda, Doñana Biological Station - CSIC
Nuria Selva, Polish Academy of Sciences
Sergio A. Lambertucci, Universidad Nacional de Comahue
Aishwarya Bhattacharjee, CUNY Queens CollegeFollow
Alexis L. Brewer, CUNY Queens CollegeFollow
Erin F. Abernethy, Oregon State University
Kelsey L. Turner, University of Georgia
James C. Beasley, University of Georgia
Travis L. DeVault, University of Georgia
Hannah C. Gerke, University of Georgia
Olin E. Rhodes Jr, University of Georgia
Andrés Ordiz, Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Camilla Wikenros, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Barbara Zimmermann, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences
Petter Wabakken, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences
Christopher C. Wilmers, University of California, Santa Cruz
Justine A. Smith, University of California, Davis
Corinne Kendall, North Carolina Zoo
Darcy Ogada, The Peregrine Fund
Ethan Frehner, University of Utah
Maximilian L. Allen, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Heiko U. Wittmer, Victoria University of Wellington
James R. A. Butler, CSIRO Land and Water
Johan T. du Toit, Utah State University
Antoni Margalida, University of Lleida
Pilar Oliva-Vidal, University of Lleida
David Wilson, The Biodiversity Consultancy
Klemen Jerina, University of Ljubljana
Miha Krofel, University of Ljubljana
Rich Kostecke, The Nature Conservancy
Richard Inger, University of Exeter
Esra Per, Gazi University
Yunus Ayhan, DEDE Nature Team
Hasan Ulusoy, DEDE Nature Team
Doğanay Vural, DEDE Nature Team
Akino Inagaki, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology
Shinsuke Koike, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology
Arockianathan Samson, Bombay Natural History Society
Paula L. Perrig, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Emma Spencer, University of Sydney
Thomas M. Newsome, University of Sydney
Marco Heurich, Bavarian Forest National Park
José D. Anadón, CUNY Queens College
Evan R. Buechley, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center
José A. Sánchez-Zapata, Universidad Miguel Hernandez de Elche

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The organization of ecological assemblages has important implications for ecosystem functioning, but little is known about how scavenger communities organize at the global scale. Here, we test four hypotheses on the factors affecting the network structure of terrestrial vertebrate scavenger assemblages and its implications on ecosystem functioning. We expect scavenger assemblages to be more nested (i.e. structured): 1) in species-rich and productive regions, as nestedness has been linked to high competition for carrion resources, and 2) regions with low human impact, because the most efficient carrion consumers that promote nestedness are large vertebrate scavengers, which are especially sensitive to human persecution. 3) We also expect climatic conditions to affect assemblage structure, because some scavenger assemblages have been shown to be more nested in colder months. Finally, 4) we expect more organized assemblages to be more efficient in the consumption of the resource. We first analyzed the relationship between the nestedness of the scavenger assemblages and climatic variables (i.e. temperature, precipitation, temperature variability and precipitation variability), ecosystem productivity and biomass (i.e. NDVI) and degree of human impact (i.e. human footprint) using 53 study sites in 22 countries across five continents. Then, we related structure (i.e. nestedness) with its function (i.e. carrion consumption rate). We found a more nested structure for scavenger assemblages in regions with higher NDVI values and lower human footprint. Moreover, more organized assemblages were more efficient in the consumption of carrion. However, our results did not support the prediction that the structure of the scavenger assemblages is directly related to climate. Our findings suggest that the nested structure of vertebrate scavenger assemblages affects its functionality and is driven by anthropogenic disturbance and ecosystem productivity worldwide. Disarray of scavenger assemblage structure by anthropogenic disturbance may lead to decreases in functionality of the terrestrial ecosystems via loss of key species and trophic facilitation processes.


This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Originally published as:

Sebastián-González, Esther; Zebensui Morales-Reyes; Francisco Botella; Lara Naves-Alegre; Juan M. Pérez-García; Patricia Mateo-Tomás; Pedro P. Olea; Marcos Moleón; Jomar M. Barbosa; Fernando Hiraldo; Eneko Arrondo; José A. Donázar; Ainara Cortés-Avizanda; Nuria Selva; Sergio A. Lambertucci; Aishwarya Bhattacharjee; Alexis L. Brewer; Erin F. Abernethy; Kelsey L. Turner; James C. Beasley; Travis L. DeVault; Hannah C. Gerke; Olin E. Rhodes Jr; Andrés Ordiz; Camilla Wikenros; Barbara Zimmermann; Petter Wabakken; Christopher C. Wilmers; Justine A. Smith; Corinne J. Kendall; Darcy Ogada; Ethan Frehner; Maximilian L. Allen; Heiko U. Wittmer; James R. A. Butler; Johan T. du Toit; Antoni Margalida; Pilar Oliva-Vidal; David Wilson; Klemen Jerina; Miha Krofel; Rich Kostecke; Richard Inger; Esra Per; Yunus Ayhan; Hasan Ulusoy; Doğanay Vural; Akino Inagaki; Shinsuke Koike; Arockianathan Samson; Paula L. Perrig; Emma Spencer; Thomas M. Newsome; Marco Heurich; José D. Anadón; Evan R. Buechley and José A. Sánchez-Zapata. "Network Structure of Vertebrate Scavenger Assemblages at the Global Scale: Drivers and Ecosystem Functioning Implications." Ecography, vol. 43. 2020. doi: 10.1111/ecog.05083



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