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15 October 2009 Dietary Niche Separation Between Sympatric Free-Ranging Domestic Dogs and Indian Foxes in Central India
Abi Tamim Vanak, Matthew E. Gompper
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The competitive dynamics between domestic and native carnivores are poorly studied. We examined competition for food between sympatric populations of free-ranging dogs (Canis familiaris) and Indian foxes (Vulpes bengalensis) through dietary analysis in a protected, dry grassland habitat in central India. We expected significant dietary overlap between dogs and foxes because of clear evidence of interference competition between dogs and foxes in this area. However, dogs subsisted largely on human-derived foods (HDFs) from direct feeding, and scavenging on garbage, crop residue, and livestock carcasses (83% relative occurrence [RO]). Wild-caught foods constituted only 11% RO of the diet of dogs. The majority of the diet of Indian foxes consisted of invertebrates (33% RO), rodents (20% RO), and fruits of Zizyphus (18.5% RO). Indian foxes did not consume HDF, nor did they scavenge from large-mammal carcasses, and included only a small portion of agricultural produce in their diet. The low contribution of HDF and agricultural food sources to the diet of Indian foxes was surprising because this species is a generalist omnivore. Dogs may be preventing foxes from accessing agricultural lands and human-associated foods by interference competition.

Abi Tamim Vanak and Matthew E. Gompper "Dietary Niche Separation Between Sympatric Free-Ranging Domestic Dogs and Indian Foxes in Central India," Journal of Mammalogy 90(5), 1058-1065, (15 October 2009).
Received: 21 July 2008; Accepted: 1 March 2009; Published: 15 October 2009

Canis familiaris
dietary overlap
human-derived food
interference competition
Vulpes bengalensis
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