Feeding habits and trophic niche overlap between sympatric golden jackal (Canis aureus) and red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in the Pannonian ecoregion (Hungary)

J. Lanszki, M. Heltai, L. Szabó

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The feeding ecology of the golden jackal (Canis aureus L., 1758) and its interspecific trophic relationship with the sympatric red fox (Vulpes vulpes (L., 1758)) was investigated in an area of recent range expansion of the golden jackal in Hungary, central Europe. Diet composition was determined by scat analysis (over 4 years: jackal 814 scats; fox 894 scats). Compared with jackals, foxes consumed more small mammals (mean biomass consumed: jackal 77%; fox 68%) and to a lesser extent plant matter (6% and 18%, respectively). The importance of other prey, such as wild boar (Sus scrofa L., 1758), cervids, brown hare (Lepus europaeus Pallas, 1778), birds, reptiles, fish, invertebrates, and domestic animals, was minimal. Both mesocarnivores consumed primarily small animals (<50 g: 92% and 87%, respectively); this implies a typical searching and solitary hunting strategy. The trophic niche breadth of both species was very narrow and the fox proved to be more of a generalist. The food overlap index between the two canids was high (mean, 73%) and varied with the decreasing availability and consumption of small mammals. Based on prey remains found in scats, small-mammal specialization over a 2-year period and seasonal predation upon wild boar piglets (mainly by the jackal), seasonal fruit eating (mainly by the fox), and scavenging on wild or domestic ungulates (both predators) were found.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1647-1656
Number of pages10
JournalCanadian journal of zoology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2006


ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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