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Dryad

Antelope space-use and behaviour indicate multi-level responses to varying anthropogenic influences in a highly human-dominated landscape

Cite this dataset

Jha, Rohit Raj; Isvaran, Kavita (2022). Antelope space-use and behaviour indicate multi-level responses to varying anthropogenic influences in a highly human-dominated landscape [Dataset]. Dryad. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.jq2bvq89k

Abstract

A primary means of conserving a species or a habitat in a human-dominated landscape is through promoting coexistence with humans while minimizing conflict. For this, we should understand how wildlife are impacted by direct and indirect human activities. Such information is rare from areas with high human densities. To investigate how animals respond to altered ecological conditions in human-dominated landscapes, we focussed on a wild herbivore of conservation concern in Krishnasaar Conservation Area (KrCA) in Nepal. Here, blackbuck, Antilope cervicapra, a generalist grazer, lives in refugia located in a growing human population. We studied the impacts of humans on habitat use and behaviour of blackbuck. We laid 250 x 250 m grid cells in the entire KrCA and carried out indirect sign surveys with three replications for habitat use assessment. We observed herds of blackbuck for 89 hours in different habitat types using scan sampling methods. Our habitat-use survey showed that habitats under intensive human use were hardly used by blackbuck, even when high-quality forage was available. Habitat openness was the major predictor of habitat-use inside the core area, where levels of human activities were low. We also found a positive correlation between habitat use by blackbuck and livestock. Blackbuck were substantially more vigilant when they were in forest than in grassland, again indicating an influence of risk. Overall, blackbuck appear to be sensitive to risk associated with both natural and anthropogenic factors. Our findings have direct implications for managing human-wildlife interactions in this landscape, specifically regarding strategies for livestock grazing in habitats highly used by blackbuck and concerning predictions of how changing land use will impact long-term persistence of blackbuck. Our work suggests that wild herbivores may be able to persist in landscapes with high human densities so long as there are refuges where human activities are relatively low.

Methods

Three different methods were used to collect the data during this study. First, we use a sign survey to collect data about habitat use by black. Sign survey was repetitively done for three months generating three sets of observations, one for each month. 

For behaviour observation, we used both group scan sampling method and focal animal observation method. The group scan sampling method was used to observe general behaviour observation and focal animal observation method was used to access vigilance behaviour in blackbuck. 

Usage notes

The data is in CSV format and can be opened in most data analyzing tools or can be converted to required format.

Funding

Tata Institute of Fundamental Research