Differences in the diet and trophic niche of three sympatric carnivores in a marshland

Zsófia Lanszki, Győző F. Horváth, Zsolt Bende, József Lanszki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In order to conserve wetlands, it is crucial to have reliable knowledge of population and community processes. Our aims were to explore the dietary differences that allow coexistence of carnivores belonging to different trophic guilds, and to detect the presence of the relict Pannonian root vole subspecies (Microtus oeconomus méhelyi) within the Kis-Balaton marshland (Hungary). The 1-year dietary study was based on faecal analysis of the main mammalian predators of the area, i.e. red fox (Vulpes vulpes), martens (Martes spp.) and Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra). Small mammals, mainly Microtus species and water vole (Arvicola amphibius), were the primary foods for each carnivore. The dietary pattern of the otter was unique among European studies. Analysis of frequency data and estimated consumed biomass data revealed significant interspecific and intraspecific (seasonal) foraging differences among the three predators. Based on diets and live trapping of small mammals, foxes and martens selected voles, they selected against mice and shrews. The selection of the root vole was confirmed from faecal samples of foxes and martens. Consequently, faecal analysis of common carnivores can be an effective monitoring tool in providing data about prey species under special habitat conditions. Thus, it may contribute to wetland conservation indirectly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-104
Number of pages12
JournalMammal Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2020



  • Kis-Balaton
  • Microtus oeconomus méhelyi
  • Trophic relationship
  • Unique dietary pattern

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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