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Data from: Prey abundance and leopard diet in a plantation and rainforest landscape, Anamalai Hills, Western Ghats

Citation

Sidhu, Swati; Raman, T. R. Shankar; Mudappa, Divya (2020), Data from: Prey abundance and leopard diet in a plantation and rainforest landscape, Anamalai Hills, Western Ghats, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.4b8gtht90

Abstract

Leopards use a wide range of habitats from natural forests to plantations in human-dominated landscapes. Within interface areas, understanding leopard ecology and diet can help in conservation management and conflict avoidance. In a fragmented rainforest and plantation landscape in southern India, we examined diet of large carnivores (with a focus on leopards) using scat analysis with DNA-based identification of predator species, and estimated relative abundance of prey species in different land uses through transect surveys. Large carnivores predominantly consumed wild prey species (98.1%) and domestic prey species contributed <2% to overall prey biomass. For leopards, four wild prey species (Indian muntjac, Indian spotted chevrotain, sambar and Indian porcupine) contributed 95.1% of prey biomass, with the rest being minor wild prey species (no livestock in identified scats). Wild prey species occurred across the landscape but varied in relative abundance by land-use type, with forest fragments supporting higher abundance of many species relative to tea and coffee plantations. As large carnivores mainly depend on wild prey and rainforest fragments act as refuges for these mammals within the tea and coffee plantations, it is important to continue to retain or restore these forest fragments.

This dataset contains abundance data on mammals (large carnivores and their prey species), using direct and indirect sign surveys along line and belt transects, respectively, as well as data on remains of prey species in large carnivore scats. This dataset is part of a study (published paper under Related works) on leopard ecology in a landscape containing commercial plantations of tea and coffee, and rainforest fragments and protected area. These data were collected between 2008 and 2010 in Valparai plateau and Anamalai Tiger Reserve in the Western Ghats, India. The dataset contains following files:

1) Transect_details.csv
2) Transect_repeats.csv
3) Mammals_Direct_signs.csv
4) Mammals_Indirect_signs.csv
5) Large_carnivores_Indirect_signs.csv
6) Large_carnivore_Diet.csv

More details regarding the above files can be found in ReadMe_Data_ColumnNames.txt.

Update, version 2: Data were updated on 4 May 2020. There was an error in the following file: Large_carnivore_Diet.csv. This file has been corrected and replaced in this update. All other files are correct and therefore not replaced.

Methods

Sign surveys: Direct surveys for mammal were conducted using line transects (2-km-long) and indirect sign surveys using belt transects (2 km long and 2 m wide) in four different habitat types: continuous forest as control site, coffee plantation, forest fragment, and tea plantation.

Diet analysis: Scats were analysed for predator diet using indigestible remains of prey species, particularly hairs, bones, quills and feathers. Hairs were identified based on external morphology, cuticular and medullary patterns, and ratio of medulla to cortex in cross-section, with the help of a microscope and comparing with photographs of reference slides.

Please see the paper (under Related works) for more details on methods.

Usage Notes

ReadMe_LeopardData_Valparai.txt contains basic information about the dataset.

ReadMe_Data_ColumnNames.txt gives details on all .csv files in the dataset and explains column names.

Funding

Rufford Foundation, Award: RSG 38.03.09

International Union for Conservation of Nature, Award: Netherlands Committee, Tropical Rainforest Programme

International Union for Conservation of Nature, Award: Netherlands Committee, Tropical Rainforest Programme