Mesocarnivore

A mesocarnivore is an animal whose diet consists of 50–70% meat with the balance consisting of non-animal foods which may include fungi, fruits, and other plant material.[1] Mesocarnivores are seen today among the Canidae (coyotes, foxes), Viverridae (civets), Mustelidae (martens, tayra), Procyonidae (ringtail, raccoon), Mephitidae (skunks), and Herpestidae (some mongooses). The Red Fox is also the most common of the mesocarnivores in Europe and has a high population density in the areas they reside [2]. According to PLOS one, the Red fox Vulpes vulpes is hunted in Liberia as a way to hopefully control the predator’s population [3].

In North America, though some mesocarnivores, such as otters, lynx, or marten, are in danger of being over hunted for their pelts [4]. This has led to efforts to help protect and conserve the mesocarnivores in the area which have been largely successful thus far [5].

There are a lot more mesocarnivores than larger species of carnivores. The American Institute of biological sciences states that it is due to the fact that there are smaller and therefore more abundant, but also because there are far more species of mesocarnivores [6]. This diversity allows them to thrive in far more places than larger carnivores are able to. The population of these smaller carnivores also increases when the presence of a larger carnivore decline. This is known as the mesocarnivore release. According to the National Park Service, “Mesocarnivore release is defined as the expansion in range and/or abundance of a smaller predator following the reduction or removal of a larger predator” [7].  One impact of this is that these mesocarnivores can act as scavengers cleaning up dead animal carcasses discarded by humans in urban areas [8].  

Dentition

Mesocarnivore cheek teeth are heterodont and their different shapes reflect distinct functions. Incisors and canines are used to apprehend food and kill prey, pointed premolars pierce and hold prey, and molars are involved in both slicing and crushing functions. The slicing function of the molars is produced by occlusion between the carnassials, the lower first molar, and the upper fourth premolar.

Mesocarnivores are first represented by the Miacidae. They are best represented by Prohesperocyon, with three incisors, one canine tooth, four premolars above. The jaw has three molars below, and two molars above on each side.[9]

See also

References

  1. Van Valkenburgh, Blaire (2007). "Déjà vu: the evolution of feeding morphologies in the Carnivora". Integrative and Comparative Biology. 47 (1): 147–163. doi:10.1093/icb/icm016.
  2. Sándor, Attila D., et al. “Mesocarnivores and Macroparasites: Altitude and Land Use Predict the Ticks Occurring on Red Foxes (Vulpes Vulpes).” Parasites & Vectors, vol. 10, Apr. 2017, pp. 1–9. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1186/s13071-017-2113-9.
  3. Curveira-Santos, Gonçalo, et al. “Mesocarnivore Community Structure under Predator Control: Unintended Patterns in a Conservation Context.” PLoS ONE, vol. 14, no. 1, Jan. 2019, pp. 1–18. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0210661.
  4. Ray, Justina C. Mesocarnivores of Northeastern North America: Status and Conservation Issues. WCS Working Papers No. 15, June 2000. Available for download from http://www.wcs.org/science/
  5. “Comeback Kids: Mesocarnivores Rebound in Northeastern U.S.” CNN, Cable News Network, 2000, www.cnn.com/2000/NATURE/08/09/carnivores.enn/index.html.
  6. Gary W. Roemer, Matthew E. Gompper, Blaire Van Valkenburgh, The Ecological Role of the Mammalian Mesocarnivore, BioScience, Volume 59, Issue 2, February 2009, Pages 165–173, https://doi.org/10.1525/bio.2009.59.2.9
  7. “Scavenging and Landscape Use of Mesocarnivores in Denali (U.S. National Park Service).” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 2019, www.nps.gov/articles/denali-crp-mesocarnivore.htm.
  8. Ćirović, Duško & Penezić, Aleksandra & Krofel, Miha. (2016). Jackals as cleaners: Ecosystem services provided by a mesocarnivore in human-dominated landscapes. Biological Conservation. 199. 51-55. 10.1016/j.biocon.2016.04.027.
  9. Radinsky, L.B. (1982). "Evolution of skull shape in carnivores. 3. The origin and early radiation of the modern carnivore families". Paleobiology. 8: 177–95. doi:10.1017/S0094837300006928.
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