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Durham e-Theses
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Risk-driven behaviour in the African leopard:how is leopard behaviour mediated by lion presence?

RAFIQ, KASIM (2016) Risk-driven behaviour in the African leopard:how is leopard behaviour mediated by lion presence? Masters thesis, Durham University.

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Agricultural expansion is restricting many carnivore species to smaller tracts of land, potentially forcing increased levels of overlap between competitors by constraining spatial partitioning. Understanding encounters between competitors is important because competition can influence species densities, distributions, and reproductive success. Despite this, little is known of the mechanisms that mediate coexistence between the African leopard (Panthera pardus) and its competitors. This project used GPS radiocollar data and playback experiments to understand risk-driven changes in the leopard’s behaviour and movement during actual and perceived encounters with lions (Panthera leo). Targeted playbacks of lion roars were used to elucidate immediate and short-lived behavioural responses in leopards when lions were perceived to be within the immediate area. To investigate the post-encounter spatial dynamics of leopard movements, the project used datasets from high-resolution GPS radiocollars deployed on leopards and lions with overlapping territories in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Leopards were found to adapt behaviours and movements when lions were perceived to be nearby. Specifically, roar playbacks elicited longer periods of vigilance than controls, and movement directions were influenced by speaker locations. Further, leopard movements were quicker and more directional after encountering lions. However, adjustments in behaviour and movement were short-lived. The results provide insights into mechanisms used by the leopard to coexist with its competitors and are a useful case study of the methods that could be used to investigate encounter dynamics within other systems.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Science
Keywords:Leopard; lion; Panthera pardus; Panthera leo; interspecific competition; intraguild competition
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Science > Biological and Biomedical Sciences, School of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:02 Aug 2016 11:09

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