LAKE, EMILY,ELIZABETH (2016) The effect of predator activity, weather and habitat variation on activity patterns of rock and bush hyrax (Procavia capensis and Heterohyrax brucei) in a mountainous environment. Masters thesis, Durham University.
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Author-imposed embargo until 08 December 2017.
The relationship between a predator and its prey is multifaceted and this study aims to expand one of the keystone concepts within predator prey interactions. The spatial and temporal changes in a prey animal’s behaviour when there is a perceived risk of predation.
Hyrax, a small African mammal, plays an integral role in rocky habitats as a key food source for many predators. The purpose of this study was to test the impact of predation on hyrax using giving-up density (GUD) experiments to establish a landscape of fear. Due to the absence of interaction from the hyrax with the GUD experiments a camera trapping protocol was implemented to collect behavioural data on hyrax in the Soutpansberg Mountains in northern South Africa.
The study aimed to test a number of conclusions made in the literature about hyrax including their classification as a diurnal species, the potential for nocturnal activity and the impact of predation on the diel cycle. Behavioural plasticity with respect to seasonal and environmental changes is also explored including the extent to which they display behavioural thermoregulation.
Hyrax showed nocturnal activity with 8.4% of activity occurring within the dark hours of the 24-hour period but the level of predation pressure may be limiting the level of nocturnality. Hyraxes were also significantly impacted by environmental variables. Activity increased with temperature in all four seasons and rainfall had an immediate effect of reducing activity. It was shown that hyrax demonstrate site specific activity that is consistent over time but can vary within a location.
This study is novel in its methods for studying hyrax and has presented new information on this understudied species that may have far reaching implications for future studies on hyrax and their predators.
|Item Type:||Thesis (Masters)|
|Award:||Master of Science|
|Faculty and Department:||Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Anthropology, Department of|
|Copyright:||Copyright of this thesis is held by the author|
|Deposited On:||12 Dec 2016 11:06|