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Dataset for analysing spatiotemporal dynamics of large carnivores in Kasungu National Park, Malawi

Citation

Davis, Robert et al. (2022), Dataset for analysing spatiotemporal dynamics of large carnivores in Kasungu National Park, Malawi, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.n2z34tmwm

Abstract

Effective conservation management requires an understanding of the spatiotemporal dynamics driving large carnivore density and resource partitioning. In African ecosystems, reduced prey populations and the loss of competing guild members, most notably lion (Panthera leo), are expected to increase levels of competition between remaining carnivores. Consequently, intraguild relationships can be altered, potentially increasing the risk of further population decline. Kasungu National Park (KNP), Malawi, is an example of a conservation area that has experienced large-scale reductions in both carnivore and prey populations, leaving a resident large carnivore guild consisting of only leopard (Panthera pardus) and spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta). Here we quantify the spatiotemporal dynamics of these two species and their degree of association, using a combination of co-detection modelling, time-to-event analyses, and temporal activity patterns from camera trap data. Detection of leopard and spotted hyaena was significantly associated with the detection of preferred prey and competing carnivores, increasing the likelihood of species interaction. Temporal analyses revealed sex-specific differences in temporal activity, with female leopard activity patterns significantly different to those of spotted hyaena and male conspecifics. Heightened risk of interaction with interspecific competitors and male conspecifics may have resulted in female leopards adopting temporal avoidance strategies to facilitate co-existence. Female leopard behavioural adaptations increased overall activity levels and diurnal activity rates, with potential consequences for overall fitness and exposure to sources of mortality. As both species are currently found at low densities in KNP, increased risk of competitive interactions, that infer a reduction in fitness, could have significant implications for large carnivore demographics. Protection of remaining prey populations is necessary to mitigate interspecific competition and avoid further alterations to the large carnivore guild.

Funding

Nottingham Trent University

Conservation Research Africa

Idea Wild

Oklahoma Zoo

Conservation Research Africa

Oklahoma Zoo