Foraging and habitat specialization by female leopards (Panthera pardus) in the Waterberg Mountains of South Africa

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dc.contributor.author Pitman, Ross T.
dc.contributor.author Kilian, Petrus Johannes
dc.contributor.author Ramsay, Paul M.
dc.contributor.author Swanepoel, Lourens Hendrik
dc.date.accessioned 2013-11-05T06:50:45Z
dc.date.available 2013-11-05T06:50:45Z
dc.date.issued 2013-10
dc.description.abstract Carnivores that persist outside of protected areas are often deemed to have highly adaptable and generalist foraging strategies. Using data from three GPS-collared female leopards (Panthera pardus) and over an eight-month period, we attempted to establish whether leopards in a mountainous landscape display preferential behaviour (i.e. specialist) or not (i.e. generalist).We investigated whether female leopards used habitats in accordance with availability for both hunting and regular activities, and whether female leopards demonstrated preference for a particular prey species. Finally, we assessed tree caching behaviour and discuss leopard spatial dynamics in the context of superior competitors, such as lions (Panthera leo). Female leopards demonstrated selection for certain prey species. Mixed closed woodland (greatest vegetation density; lowest prey density) and tall open woodland (greatest vegetation biomass; high prey density) were preferred over other habitats. Female leopards on Welgevonden cached significantly larger prey species in trees. Our results suggest that female leopards in this landscape are selecting habitats – enabling the exploitation of certain ecological features – that balance energy expenditure against the likelihood of capturing prey in an attempt to maximize efficiency, whilst reducing inter-specific competition.We suggest that female leopards are limited in their foraging ability as a result of interference competition by superior species like lions, which in turn, affects their choice of prey. These findings highlight the potential importance of numerous ecological, spatio-temporal, and anthropogenic factors that influence leopard behaviour, and therefore have significant implications for leopard persistence and conservation. en_US
dc.description.librarian am2013 en_US
dc.description.sponsorship The Wilson Foundation and the Centre for Wildlife Management. L.H.S. was supported by a NRF grant (No. 74819). en_US
dc.description.uri http://www.sawma.co.za/ en_US
dc.identifier.citation Pitman, RT, Killian, PJ, Ramsay, PM & Swanepoel, LH 2013, 'Foraging and habitat specialization by female leopards (Panthera pardus) in the Waterberg Mountains of South Africa', South African Journal of Wildlife Research, vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 167-176. en_US
dc.identifier.issn 0379-4369
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2263/32267
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.publisher Southern African Wildlife Management Association en_US
dc.rights Southern African Wildlife Management Association en_US
dc.subject Predation en_US
dc.subject Kill site en_US
dc.subject Carnivore en_US
dc.subject GPS cluster analysis en_US
dc.subject Preference en_US
dc.subject Optimal foraging en_US
dc.title Foraging and habitat specialization by female leopards (Panthera pardus) in the Waterberg Mountains of South Africa en_US
dc.type Article en_US


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