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Title: The impact of intraguild competition with lion (Panthera leo) on leopard (Panthera pardus) behavioural ecology
Author: du Preez, Byron Dennis
ISNI:       0000 0004 5369 3912
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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Single-species research dominates the field of ecology; however there is a growing appreciation of the importance of a multi-species approach to holistic conservation. Carnivores exert a top-down control on other species, and are vital components of stable ecosystem functioning. Physiologically adapted for predation upon other animals, competition between carnivores can be particularly aggressive; frequently resulting in mortality, and even population suppression. Big cat research has historically focused on those species that are most easily observable; in particular the lion Panthera leo. The majority of the Felidae however are secretive and elusive, and receive relatively little scientific attention. In particular, there are few data available that measure the effect of direct intraguild interactions between carnivores. Using leopards Panthera pardus as a model species, this research aimed to investigate the impact of lions on the behavioural ecology of a socially subordinate carnivore. Leopards are the most abundant large carnivore in Africa, and have the largest global range of all felids; their ecological niche overlapping with that of both lions and tigers. The knowledge gained from examining their competitive interactions is therefore widely relevant, and may be applicable to other subordinate carnivore species that remain unstudied. Biotelemetry and camera-trap data were modelled using novel algorithms to show that lions impact on leopard population density, demographics and spatial ecology. Faecal analyses suggest that dietary niche segregation may facilitate sympatry. These results indicate the level of impact that large carnivores can exert over smaller species, and the potential for a focus on single-species conservation to undermine holistic conservation. The manifestation of intraguild competition has a significant influence on an animal’s ecology; leopards are generalist species that cope with persecution by adapting their behaviour and niche. Ecological specialists may not fare as well under competitive pressure, and proactive conservation initiatives may be required for endangered species.
Supervisor: Macdonald, David W. ; Loveridge, Andrew J. Sponsor: Beit Trust ; Darwin Initiative for Biodiversity
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Life Sciences ; Zoological sciences ; Behaviour (zoology) ; Ecology (zoology) ; leopard ; Panthera pardus ; lion ; Panthera leo ; behavioyral ecology ; intraguild ; competition ; risk ; niche ; impact ; conservation ; camera-trap ; collar ; code ; behaviour models