|Effect of Water Management on the Carnivore Community Within Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe|
|Aïssa Morin, Olivier Gimenez, Lara Sousa, Justin Seymour-Smith, Holly O’Donnell, Marie-Laure Delignette-Muller, Andrew Loveridge, Marion Valeix|
Water is a key resource in arid and semi-arid ecosystems such as Southern African savannas. It is an important determinant of the spatial ecology of both mammalian herbivores and carnivores, the latter taking advantage of prey higher abundance around water points when hunting, for example. Most ecosystems are characterized by the coexistence of several species. Among terrestrial carnivores, evidence has accumulated on large carnivore intra-guild interactions and on the effect of large carnivores on smaller carnivores. Most interactions are negative and characterized by direct killing or competition for resources. Consequently, subordinate carnivores are commonly expected to adjust their behaviour to avoid negative interaction outcomes with larger carnivores. These complex networks within carnivore communities are likely to be influenced by resources and human use and management of these resources. Hwange National Park (HNP, Zimbabwe) is characterized by the provision of artificial water through pumped waterholes. Using a network of camera traps deployed in the park in areas characterized by contrasted intensity of pumping, we will explore the impact of anthropogenic water management on interactions between predators and therefore on the carnivore community within HNP. As interactions between carnivores can impact species abundance and spatial distribution, we will first explore species spatial patterns and the impact of water management on species associations in space using multispecies occupancy models which allow to estimate the probability that two species use the same site as a function of covariates. However, changes in space use are not the only behavioural changes carnivores can undertake to avoid costly interactions. Therefore, we will also explore activity patterns in areas with contrasted density of waterhole. Finally, we will discuss our results in the context of water management in protected areas.
|Histological Study of the Third Eyelid In Asian Golden Cat Suffering from Third Eyelid Cartilage Eversion|
|Phirawich Sa-ardta, Tanawan Soimala, Manita Wittayarat, Saritvich Panyaboriban, Sayamon Srisuwatanasagul|
Purpose: Asian golden cat (Catopuma temminckii) is a wild native cat in southeast Asia, which listed as a near–threatened species on the international union for conservation of nature since 2008. Upon reviewing the literature, information regarding the histological finding of the third eyelid in this specie has not been reported so far. Therefore, this report aimed to evaluate the histological findings of the third eyelid (gland and cartilage) in the Asiatic golden cat. Methods: The third eyelid tissue was collected from a female captive Asian golden cat of unknown age undergoing ophthalmic surgery to correct third eyelid cartilage eversion. The tissue was preserved in 10% formalin for 48 hours. Thereafter, the specimens were slightly cut and processed histologically. The histological tissue was stained with Hematoxylin and Eosin and studied using the digital slide scanner (3DHISTECH, Budapest, Hungary). A whole slide digitalization was briefly applied to the sample section to visualize the whole picture in each slide. Result: The histological results demonstrated similar characteristics of other domestic animals covered with stratified squamous epithelium. The goblet cells were not observed in the nictitating membrane of the Asian golden cat. The hyaline cartilage was found in the submucosa layer with the tubuloacinar glands beneath the T-shape cartilage. Conclusion: This study report scrolling of the third eyelid cartilage in a wild cat and the surgical correction of this condition. Removal of the deformed portion of cartilage resolves the deformation. The histological finding revealed similar characteristic of third eyelid tissues of other domestic animals.
|Habitat Selection of Nilgai Antelope in South Texas|
|Kathryn Sliwa, Jeremy Baumgardt, Randy W. DeYoung, J. Alfonso Ortega-S., David G. Hewitt, John Goolsby|
Foraging activities and resource availability can influence the home range size and movement of ungulates. Understanding how a species selects habitat features across a landscape can provide managers information for wildlife and disease management. Nilgai antelope (Boselaphus tragocamelus) are an exotic ungulate that has naturalized in South Texas, USA. Nilgai are a suitable host for cattle fever ticks (CFT), Rhipicephalus (=Boophilus) microplus (Cannestrini) and R. (B.) annulatus (Say), which can transmit bovine babesiosis. Bovine babesiosis can be deadly in cattle and is a major concern for livestock producers. Nilgai are a large, intermediate feeder whose diets overlap with both white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and cattle, depending on the time of year and range condition. Although nilgai have been in Texas for almost a century, there is very little information on nilgai ecology and habitat selection. With the threat of re-infestation of CFT throughout the region, research on nilgai movement and habitat selection is needed. In this study, we evaluated habitat selection of nilgai in South Texas based on global positioning systems locations from 30 collared animals during 2019–2020. Specific goals were to: 1) investigate seasonal habitat selection by nilgai, and 2) assess habitat selection based on movement behaviors. Nilgai selected for woody and mixed cover regardless of season or sex. Nilgai had similar patterns of selection and avoidance each season whether individuals were resident or displayed seasonal movements. Cattle fever tick eradication efforts use treated cattle to remove ticks from the landscape. However, areas not frequented by cattle, including dense brush, can act as a source of CFT re-infestation. Nilgai selected for areas with greater brush cover, which is also suitable tick habitat. Our findings regarding how host species use the landscape can aid in the creation of a better CFT eradication plan for South Texas.
|Impact of a Severe Winter Storm on a Tropical Ungulate: Density Dependent or Not?|
Extreme weather events (EWE) have been increasing in recent years which have implications for wildlife; however, it is difficult to quantify the impacts of EWE on population dynamics because such events are random. In February 2020, Winter Storm Uri brought below-freezing temperatures to the subtropical area of South Texas for 4 days which provided an opportunity to evaluate the impact on nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus). Nilgai are a large ungulate native to India and Nepal that has become established in South Texas (population >37,000) and are known to be sensitive to prolonged cold weather. However, it was not known whether the impact of cold weather on nilgai is density dependent or not. Two and 5 days after Uri, 40 km of fixed-width transects were flown via helicopter to survey nilgai in two separate 2,500 ha pastures on King Ranch to quantify population density, recruitment rates, and apparent mortality. Apparent mortality was defined as number of dead nilgai encountered divided by number of total nilgai encountered. In the high density (HD) pasture, population density was 23% higher (15.9 nilgai/km2) than the low density (LD) pasture (12.2 nilgai/km2). Calf:cow ratios, an index of recruitment, was 54% lower (32:100 cows) in the HD pasture than the LD pasture (70:100 cows). Apparent mortality was 88% higher in the HD pasture (21.5%) than in the LD pasture (2.6%). The evidence supports the hypothesis that EWE impacts can be density dependent. Nilgai do not develop endogenous fat reserves but rather store some fat around internal organs as a strategy to minimize overheating. The rapid grass senescence and brush defoliation as a response to Uri likely caused the high density nilgai population to quickly deplete their presumably low fat reserves which suggest that fat deposition strategies need to be considered when searching for density dependence signals.
|Effects of an Anthropogenic Landscape on the Diet of Mexican Bobcats and Coyotes In Central Mexico|
|Jorge L. Reyes-Díaz, Alan Hernández-Escobar, M. Gabriela Camargo-Aguilera, Nalleli E. Lara-Díaz, María Eugenia Espinosa-Flores, Carlos A Lopez Gonzalez|
Feeding habits of carnivores change in different ways by urbanization processes, where generalist carnivores will be better adapted to anthropization. Generating information about carnivore feeding ecology in human transformed ecosystems is essential to improve management plans. Our objective was to determine the diet of Mexican bobcats (Lynx rufus escuinapae) and coyotes (Canis latrans) in a suburban landscape of Central Mexico. We determined species and sex ID using microsatellite and amelogenin gene analysis for scat characterization. We calculated percentage of occurrence and relative biomass of prey consumed. We compared the diet between sexes and species through statistical analysis, including binomial GLMs to assess the anthropic variables effect on prey consumption. We analyzed 244 bobcat and 182 coyote scats collected in 2016-2019. Bobcats used 16 prey items (15 mammals and unknown birds) while coyotes used 31 (15 mammals, 2 birds, 4 arthropods and 10 plants). We did not find significant differences in the diet between sexes in both bobcats and coyotes. Lagomorphs and rodents were the most frequently prey consumed by bobcats, and the highest biomass contribution. Coyotes consumed vegetable matter, followed by mammals; mainly lagomorphs (which contributed the highest biomass). Anthropogenic variables such as distance to localities and population density negatively affected the presence of prey consumed by bobcats and coyotes in areas with human induced vegetation. Bobcats and coyotes can be used the same prey but coyotes take advantage of other resources such as plants and arthropods, supporting a greater adaptation to an anthropogenic landscape.
|Relative Abundance of Felines and Other Terrestrial Wildlife Species in Three Costa Rican Rainforests|
|Brytanie Morman, Kayla Hiatt, Jesse Hay, Leslie Hay|
Declines in terrestrial wildlife populations cause concern for overall rainforest health. Costa Rica has lost 80% of it’s forest since WWII, with a deforestation rate of 8,100 ha/yr. Jaguar populations are declining throughout their range due to anthropogenic impacts.
Our objective was to evaluate differences in presence, relative abundance, and distribution of felids including jaguar (Panthera onca), puma (Puma concolor), ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), margay (Leopardus weldii), jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi); and their prey species. We conducted camera trapping from 2013-2017 in three neotropical rainforest sites. We deployed trail cameras and scent lures along trails at a high elevation site (Las Alturas, 1,528 meters) and two low elevation sites (Osa and La Selva; 0 to 782 meters).
We recorded 23 wildlife species, including all 5 felids in varied habitats. We observed a greater presence of jaguar & other felids at Las Alturas, but puma were relatively abundant in all three sites. Between 2014-2015 we recorded 41 records of jaguar with 39 observations at Las Alturas, 2 at Osa, and 0 at La Selva. For puma we recorded 219 observations with 125 at Las Alturas, 86 at Osa, and 8 at La Selva. For medium cats, we recorded the most ocelot and the least jaguarundi. During 2016-2017, both jaguar and puma observations decreased. The lowland sites maintained a higher feline predator complement and populations of white-lipped peccaries, which are absent from La Selva. They are an important prey species of jaguar, along with a diversity of other small mammalian prey species recorded at all 3 sites. Of the prey species observed in 2014-2015, peccaries and tapir comprised 29% and large rodents (i.e.,paca and agouti) comprised 46%. Relative Abundance Indices were calculated to demonstrate the range of wildlife species between the sites. For further analyses, occupancy estimates will be calculated and further evaluation of anthropogenic impacts at our 3 study sites.
|How Competition Dynamics Drive Access to Shared Scavenging Opportunities Amongst a Group of Mesocarnivores in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta – SRIP|
|Elicia Bell, Christopher Bone, Chris Darimont, Henry Hart|
|Mesocarnivores occupy critical functional roles in regulating ecosystems and maintaining biodiversity. In the Canadian Rocky Mountains, mustelid species depend heavily on carrion as an important dietary contribution, particularly in winter when resources are scarce. In diverse mesocarnivore communities, species must balance energetic resource acquisition with avoidance of costly competition dynamics, requiring them to undergo a continuous spatiotemporal cost-benefit assessment. Camera trap data (n=59) collected during winter (2006-2008) and baited with a simulated scavenging opportunity allowed for the energetic incentive at survey sites to exist at a constant. Through controlling for the degree of energetic payoff across camera trap locations, the perceived risk of experiencing intraguild competition could be measured. We examined the nature of spatiotemporal interactions between wolverine, American marten and short-tailed weasel at two aligned temporal scales. The effect of intensity of site use by one species on that of competitors, represented by capture rate over a 5-day period, was evaluated using zero-inflated negative binomial models (ZINB). This approach determines what competitive and environmental factors affect variation in (1) species presence/absence and (2) how intensely they optimize a spatial location. A time-to-event analysis, the Cox proportional hazards model (CPH), was used to quantify the degree of fine scale (hourly over a 5-day period) reactionary behavioural response by focal species to exploitation competition. CPH models reveal the directionality of species interactions and the relative influence of environmental variables (i.e. diel period, landcover character and snow depth). Pairing of these models enabled us to recognize the relative contribution of niche partitioning structures and that of reactionary fine-scale behavioural mechanisms. Given their vital ecological roles, it is important that we understand the ability of individual mustelid species to exploit scavenging opportunities and identify the external factors that influence coexistence. This work offers insights to protection strategies that consider ecological community-level management.|
|Spatiotemporal Habitat Partitioning between Sympatric Jackal Species, in Limpopo Province, South Africa – SRIP|
|Ian Mack II|
|Black-backed jackals (BBJ; Canis mesomelas) and side-striped jackals (SSJ; C. adustus) are widely distributed in southern and east Africa. Range-wide, the distribution of the species overlaps by approximately 26%. In southern Africa, a narrow range distribution overlap zone runs from western Angola to eastern South Africa and southern Mozambique. There is currently little information regarding how these two species partition habitat where they occur sympatrically. We studied jackal activity and habitat use at Hans Merensky Nature Reserve (5,362 ha) and Vygeboom Nature Reserve (6,629 ha), adjacent reserves located in Limpopo Province, South Africa. From mid-December 2019 to mid-February 2020, we deployed 88 camera traps along a two-km × two-km grid network across the study site, each trap consisting of paired infrared game cameras. At each trap site, we also collected data on vegetation type and structure. We made 65 observations of BBJ and 159 observations of SSJ across 18 trap sites. Five traps reported BBJ only, seven traps reported SSJ only, and six traps (33%) reported both species. On only two occasions did both species occur at the same trap site during a twenty-four-hour period. This preliminary analysis suggests that BBJ and SSJ may be partitioning habitat both spatially and temporally. We will further evaluate spatial use of both species using multi-species occupancy-modeling based on species occurrence and vegetation data. This information will help us better understand the complex interactions between these two species and inform conservation and management decisions, given the dearth of information currently available on these species.|
|Evaluation and Management Alternatives of Birds That Feed on Corn Crops in the Coast of Oaxaca Mexico – SRIP|
|Dayane Puente, Miguel Ángel De Labra-Hernández|
|The change of land use due to agricultural intensification, fragmentation and loss of habitat reduces the availability of natural food for birds in agricultural areas. Due to this, birds must supplement their diet with agricultural products such as corn. Birds that exhibit this behavior are considered pests, so farmers resort to lethal methods to reduce damage to their crops. One of the main challenges is to reconcile the farmer-bird relationship by generating management techniques while conserving bird populations. The objective of this study is to identify the species of birds that consume corn in four locations along the coast of the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca and evaluate the damage by comparing the losses in production in ten different plots. All of which have different characteristics regarding vegetation and corn phenology. Bird sightings will be recorded with the use of binoculars at sunrise and sunset during the months of July to October 2021. Subsequently, within each plot, 5 quadrants of 5×5 meters will be created, where the production of corn and the damage caused by the birds can be estimated. By doing this, we will be able to estimate the loss of corn production. This will be done by relating the average production to the average damage. The percentage of damage will be considered with five scales, I: 1-20%, II: 21-40%, III: 41-60%, IV: 61-80% and V: 81-100%. In addition, semi-structured interviews will be applied to farmers to find out their perception towards birds. The results of this study will be considered to establish management alternatives for birds that eat corn.|
|Using Spatial Mark-Resight Models to Estimate Puma Density and Compare to Jaguar and Ocelot Densities Across Multiple Sites and Years in Belize. – SRIP|
|Darby McPhail, David Logo, Robert Nipko, Chris Satter, Marcella Kelly|
|Large wild cats play important roles in maintaining biodiversity and structuring ecological communities. The jaguar (Panthera onca) is often protected for the benefit of all trophic levels, however, there are mixed opinions regarding whether this conservation strategy is effective for smaller, closely related species such as pumas (Puma concolor) and ocelots (Leopardus pardalis). In contrast to jaguars and ocelots, there have been fewer studies on puma densities in the neotropics since pumas do not have distinct, natural markings that allow for current mark-recapture analyses. However, in study sites in Belize, Central America, a subset of pumas is marked with scars, nicks, and tail kinks. We will use spatial mark-resight (SMR) models with camera trap surveys to estimate puma densities using marked and unmarked categories. Preliminary results have shown that SMR is a viable way to estimate puma densities as we estimated 0.8 pumas/100 km2 at one of our sites. Estimates for multiple sites and years are currently underway. We have used spatially explicit capture recapture (SECR) models to estimate jaguar and ocelot densities. We found point estimates for jaguars ranging from 0.44-4.89 jaguars/100 km2 across four broadleaf sites and from 0.16-2.89 jaguars/100 km2 at the pine forest site. Similarly, ocelot densities were higher in the broadleaf sites (6.5-14.1 ocelots/100km²) than in the pine forest sites (0.9-2.5 ocelots/100km²) and did not appear negatively related to jaguar densities. But, we do not know how densities of the puma, as the intermediate sized cat, are related to either of the two species. We plan to use linear regression to compare jaguar, puma, and ocelot densities across sites and years to determine if densities are negatively related, potentially due to competition. This study may provide evidence supporting or refuting the jaguar as an umbrella species for small felids species the jaguar overlaps.|
|Does Timing of Birth Affect Foal and Mare Survival in Wild Plains Zebras? – SRIP|
|Lucie Thel, Christophe Bonenfant, Simon Chamaillé-Jammes|
|In large herbivores, timing of births is mainly driven by the seasonal availability of food resource. Population dynamics is strongly influenced by juvenile survival and recruitment, which highly depend on weather individuals are born during a favorable year or not. If births often occur during the most suitable season in cyclical environments for many large herbivore species, zebra give birth year round at Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, a tropical bushland characterized by the succession of a favorable wet season and a shorter less favorable dry season. We used capture-recapture models in a Bayesian framework for analyzing long term observation data collected between 2008 and 2019 in this zebra population. We investigated the effect of time spent in dry season from birth until one year old on foals and mares survival. We hypothesized that survival of reproducing females and juveniles should be negatively related to the length of the dry season, because mares undergo harder conditions while supporting their dependent foal. As expected, juvenile survival decreased with the length of the dry season: the expected survival was 0.78 [0.67; 0.88] for the best year (i.e. foals spend less than 30% of their first year of life in dry season), whereas it was only 0.55 [0.42; 0.68] for the worst year (i.e. foals spend more than 70% of their first year of life in dry season). We still need to explore the impact of the dry season on mares survival. If it is negatively impacted like their foals, this could explain why the majority of births occurs at the time minimizing the time spent in dry season, during the transition phase between wet and dry season. As climate change will lead to longer and harsher dry seasons in tropical ecosystems, we hypothesize a detrimental effect on zebra population dynamics in the future.|
|Post Translocation Changes in Behaviour of Arabian Oryx at Range-Limited Facilities – SRIP|
|Sofiia Pyshnieva, Pavla Hejcmanova, Greg Simkins, Tamer Khafaga, Moayyed Sher Shah|
|The reality is that most of the populations of endangered antelopes in the Middle East region are living in the range-limited predator-free facilities with food and water supplement of different intensity. Problems like degradation of natural vegetation, loss of natural behaviour patterns, and overpopulation of certain species widely recorded for these areas in the region. Listed problems became influential factors of behavioural alteration in antelopes and raised questions: whether the antelopes in the fenced facilities are able to express the behaviour comparable to their free-roaming relatives and how population density influences the behaviour of social antelopes? Aiming to answer these questions, we investigate the activity pattern of Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx) in the fenced protected area – Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (UAE), where antelopes are living under semi-intensive management. Taking as a milestone the moment of the translocation of animals (happened in the end 2020 – beginning of 2021), we will compare camera trap parameters (occupancy, spatial distribution) and activity patterns of Arabian oryx at different habitats – natural and artificially improved – before and after the activity. Preliminary research shows that under high density animals in this area kept some behavioural pattern indicating the original natural behaviour: seasonality, reduced activity during the hottest period of the day. At the same time, there were clear signs of behavioural alteration: detection probability was higher at waterholes; antelopes did not utilize the whole reserve area. Based on this we build up in-depth research on antelope behaviour. We expect an intensification of the explorative behaviour, more even distribution of antelopes on natural and artificially improved sites regardless of water & food sources location.|