Fear of the dark or dinner by moonlight? Reduced temporal partitioning among Africa’s large carnivores

Ecology 93: 2590–2599.


Africa is home to the last intact guild of large carnivores and thus provides the only opportunity to investigate mechanisms of coexistence among large predator species. Strong asymmetric dominance hierarchies typically characterize guilds of large carnivores; but despite this asymmetry, subdominant species may persist alongside their stronger counterparts through temporal partitioning of habitat and resources. In the African guild, the subdominant African wild dogs and cheetahs are routinely described as diurnal and crepuscular. These activity patterns have been interpreted to result from the need to avoid encounters with the stronger, nocturnal spotted hyenas and lions. However, the idea that diel activity patterns of carnivore species are strongly shaped by competition and predation has recently been challenged by new observations. In a three-year study in the Okavango Delta, we investigated daily activity patterns and temporal partitioning for wild dogs, cheetahs, spotted hyenas and lions by fitting radio collars that continuously recorded activity bursts, to a total of 25 individuals. Analysis of activity patterns throughout the 24-h cycle revealed an unexpectedly high degree of temporal overlap among the four species. This was mainly due to the extensive and previously undescribed nocturnal activity of wild dogs and cheetahs. Their nocturnal activity fluctuated with the lunar cycle, represented up to 40% of the diel activity budget and was primarily constrained by moonlight availability. In contrast, the nocturnal activity patterns of lions and hyenas were unaffected by moonlight and remained constant over the lunar cycle. Our results suggest that other ecological factors such as optimal hunting conditions have shaped the diel activity patterns of subdominant, large predators. We suggest that they are “starvation driven” and must exploit every opportunity to obtain a meal. The benefits of activity on moonlit nights therefore offset the risks of encountering night-active predators and competitors.


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Comparison of the effects of artificial and natural barriers on large African carnivores: Implications for interspecific relationships and connectivity

Journal of Animal Ecology 82: 707-715.


1. Physical barriers contribute to habitat fragmentation, influence species distribution and ranging behaviour, and impact long-term population viability. Barrier permeability varies among species and can potentially impact the competitive balance within animal communities by differentially affecting co-occurring species. The influence of barriers on the spatial distribution of species within whole communities has nonetheless received little attention.

2. During a 4 year period, we studied the influence of a fence and rivers, two landscape features that potentially act as barriers on space use and ranging behaviour of lions Panthera leo, spotted hyenas Crocuta crocuta, African wild dogs Lycaon pictus and cheetahs Acinonyx jubatus in Northern Botswana. We compared the tendencies of these species to cross the barriers using data generated from GPS-radio collars fitted to a total of 35 individuals. Barrier permeability was inferred by calculating the number of times animals crossed a barrier vs. the number of times they did not cross. Finally, based on our results, we produced a map of connectivity for the broader landscape system.

3. Permeability varied significantly between fence and rivers and among species. The fence represented an obstacle for lions (permeability = 7.2%), while it was considerably more permeable for hyenas (35.6%) and wild dogs and cheetahs (≥ 50%). In contrast, the rivers and associated floodplains were relatively permeable to lions (14.4%) while they represented a nearly impassable obstacle for the other species (< 2%).

4. The aversion of lions to cross the fence resulted in a relatively lion-free habitat patch on one side of the fence, which might provide a potential refuge for other species. For instance, the competitively inferior wild dogs used this refuge significantly more intensively than the side of the fence with a high presence of lions.

5. We showed that the influence of a barrier on the distribution of animals could potentially result in a broad-scale modification of community structure and ecology within a Influence of barriers on large carnivores guild of co-occurring species. As habitat fragmentation increases, understanding the impact of barriers on species distributions is thus essential for the implementation of landscape-scale management strategies, the development and maintenance of corridors and the enhancement of connectivity.


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Donnerstag, 14 Juni 2018 08:09

STUART, C. & T. (1993)

Guide to the Southern African Game & Nature Reserves.

South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe.

374 Seiten, zahlreiche Farbfotos und Landkarten.
3rd überarbeitete und aktualisierte Auflage. Struik Publishers (Pty) Ltd. Cape Town. ISBN 1-86825-558-1.


Knappe Hinweise und Texte zu 411 Naturschutzgebieten im südlichen Afrika geordnet nach 19 Regionen.



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