Publicaties

Leopard density and interspecific spatiotemporal interactions in a hyena-dominated landscape

Vissia, Sander; Fattebert, Julien; Langevelde, Frank van

Samenvatting

Scavenging is widespread in the carnivore guild and can greatly impact food web structures and population dynamics by either facilitation or suppression of sympatric carnivores. Due to habitat loss and fragmentation, carnivores are increasingly forced into close sympatry, possibly resulting in more interactions such as kleptoparasitism and competition. In this paper, we investigate the potential for these interactions when carnivore densities are high. A camera trap survey was conducted in central Tuli, Botswana, to examine leopard Panthera pardus densities and spatiotemporal activity patterns of leopard and its most important competitors' brown hyena Parahyaena brunnea and spotted hyena Crocuta crocuta. Spatial capture–recapture models estimated leopard population density to be 12.7 ± 3.2 leopard/100 km2, which is one of the highest leopard densities in Africa. Time-to-event analyses showed both brown hyena and spotted hyena were observed more frequently before and after a leopard observation than expected by chance. The high spatiotemporal overlap of both hyena species with leopard is possibly explained by leopard providing scavenging opportunities for brown hyena and spotted hyena. Our results suggest that central Tuli is a high-density leopard area, despite possible intense kleptoparasitism and competition.