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Title: Behavioural adjustments of lion (Panthera leo) in response to risk of human-caused mortality
Author: Cotterill, Alayne
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Fear of predation can have a major impact on the behaviour of prey species. Despite recent codifying of the concept of the ecology of fear, there has been relatively little focus on how these ideas apply to large carnivore species which, although not prey sensu stricto, may experience fear as a result of threats from humans. This thesis argues that large mammalian carnivores are subject to a Landscape of Fear similar to that described for prey species, and will respond behaviourally to fear of human-caused mortality. The idea of a "Landscape of Coexistence" is introduced to denote the perceived risk from humans and associated behavioural responses that can be overlain on spatio-temporally heterogeneous landscapes. Literature on the ecology of fear for large mammalian carnivores and, as there is a dearth of such literature, the current theory on the ecology of fear for other guilds is reviewed, and how this might inform large carnivore behaviour in a Landscape of Coexistence is explored. Behavioural effects of human-caused mortality risk are revealed for lions living in a human dominated landscape (Laikipia County, Kenya), specifically how lions adjust their movement patterns, habitat use and foraging tactics when in proximity to humans. It is argued that these behavioural adjustments represent a trade-off between maximising fitness enhancing activities and minimising the risk of human-caused mortality, thus need to be taken into consideration along with the lethal effects of humans when explaining the density, distribution and behaviour of lions throughout much of their remaining range. Although fear is generic, 'human-caused mortality risk' represents a distinct and very important sub-set of the ecology of fear for the carnivore guild. The existence of a Landscape of Coexistence has implications for understanding their foraging ecology, and ultimately their population dynamics and role in the ecosystem, and is therefore, important for the conservation of large carnivores throughout large parts of their remaining ranges.
Supervisor: Macdonald, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Behavioural ecology ; Conservation biology ; Lion behavioural ecology ; Human carnivore conflict ; Landscape of coexistence ; Ecology of fear