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Title: An Analysis of the Coexistence of Sympatric Jackal Species: Canis adustus, Canis aureus, and Canis mesomelas
Authors: Kaplan, Emily
Advisors: Levin, Simon
Department: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Class Year: 2014
Abstract: Three species in the Canis genus are jackals: Canis adustus, the sidestriped jackal; Canis aureus, the golden jackal; and Canis mesomelas, the blackbacked jackal. The ranges of the side-striped and the black-backed jackals are limited to regions in Africa, but the golden jackal’s range extends into Europe and Asia. Within Africa, the three jackals live sympatrically, or within the same geographical range, in certain regions – some regions with only two species, and one region with all three species. When species’ ranges overlap, there seems to be two possibilities: either they may converge or overlap in traits and compete, or they may diverge and stably coexist. In the case of convergence and competition, the species occupy similar and overlapping niches and compete for resources. In the case of divergence and coexistence, it’s likely that species will diverge in size, morphology, diet, habitat, and/or activity patterns. Considering that the three species of jackals in sympatry are quite similar in morphology and behavior, the immediate assumption would be that they are in competition. Hence it is somewhat surprising that they are able to coexist stably in sympatry. This paper aims to investigate why and how the three jackal species are able to coexist in Eastern Africa. By gathering and comparing information between the allopatric and sympatric populations of each species, it might be possible to determine if the three species are in competition or if they experience some degree of character displacement and divergence. Several publications have studied elements of this question, but there doesn’t seem to be a comprehensive evaluation of how these species are able to coexist. Through discussing the definition of character displacement and investigating the characteristics of the species in allopatry and sympatry, this paper should provide a more thorough answer by determining what changes the species undergo, how the species interact, and how they partition the available resources. These three species of jackals are a particularly interesting and noteworthy case study because of their flexible, omnivorous and opportunistic nature, and their ability to adapt to different environments.
Extent: 55 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 1992-2016

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