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14 October 2020 Battle of the Large Carnivores: Spatial Partitioning in a Small, Enclosed Reserve?
Jessica Comley, Christoffel J. Joubert, Nokubonga Mgqatsa, Dan M. Parker
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Abstract

Interspecific competition among terrestrial carnivores can have widespread impacts on community structure and can ultimately determine which species are able to coexist. Within the carnivore guild, coexistence can be achieved through either spatial, temporal or dietary partitioning. The most effective method of avoiding competition may be spatial partitioning, as it removes the potential for negative interactions. The ways in which large carnivore species utilize and partition space in small, enclosed reserves in South Africa is currently poorly understood. This knowledge gap weakens our understanding of which mechanisms structure large carnivore communities in these systems. Thus, our aim was to use Global Positioning System (GPS) collars to investigate the spatial dynamics of large carnivores [four lions (Panthera leo), three leopards (Panthera pardus) and three spotted hyaenas (Crocuta crocuta)] on a small, enclosed reserve (Selati Game Reserve). Regarding home ranges, lions had considerable overlap among themselves (especially the females), leopards had minimal overlap, while spotted hyaenas had no home range overlap. Although we found no evidence for spatial partitioning amongst the collared large carnivores, differences in the habitat use patterns of the three large carnivore species is evident. The high prey abundance of Selati, carnivore predation strategies, behavioural adaptations and ecological separation could be facilitating the coexistence of lions, spotted hyaenas and leopards in Selati. We encourage future research to be aimed at investigating the interactions of multiple sympatric carnivores in an attempt to bridge the knowledge gap on which mechanisms structure carnivore communities.

Jessica Comley, Christoffel J. Joubert, Nokubonga Mgqatsa, and Dan M. Parker "Battle of the Large Carnivores: Spatial Partitioning in a Small, Enclosed Reserve?," African Journal of Wildlife Research 50(1), (14 October 2020). https://doi.org/10.3957/056.050.0176
Received: 24 June 2020; Accepted: 27 September 2020; Published: 14 October 2020
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