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Home ranges of lions in the Kalahari, Botswana exhibit vast sizes and high temporal variability


Zehnder, André; Henley, Stephen; Weibel, Robert (2018). Home ranges of lions in the Kalahari, Botswana exhibit vast sizes and high temporal variability. Zoology, 128:46-54.

Abstract

The central Kalahari region in Botswana is one of the few remaining ecosystems with a stable lion population. Yet, relatively little is known about the ecology of the lions there. As an entry point, home range estimations provide information about the space utilization of the studied animals. The home ranges of eight lions in this region were determined to investigate their spatial overlaps and spatiotemporal variations. We found that, ex- cept for MCP, all home range estimators yielded comparable results regarding size and shape. The home ranges of all individuals were located predominantly inside the protected reserves. Their areas were among the largest known for lions with 1131 – 4314 km2 (95%), with no significant differences between males and females. Numerous overlaps between lions of different sexes were detected, although these originate from different groups. A distance chart confirmed that most of these lions directly encountered each other once or several times. Strong temporal variations of the home ranges were observed that did not match a seasonal pattern. The exceptionally large home ranges are likely to be caused by the sparse and dynamic prey populations. Since the ungulates in the study area move in an opportunistic way, too, strong spatiotemporal home range variations emerge. This can lead to misleading home ranges. We therefore recommend clarifying the stability of the home ranges by applying several levels of temporal aggregation. The lack of strict territoriality is likely an adaptation to the variable prey base and the high energetic costs associated with defending a large area.

Abstract

The central Kalahari region in Botswana is one of the few remaining ecosystems with a stable lion population. Yet, relatively little is known about the ecology of the lions there. As an entry point, home range estimations provide information about the space utilization of the studied animals. The home ranges of eight lions in this region were determined to investigate their spatial overlaps and spatiotemporal variations. We found that, ex- cept for MCP, all home range estimators yielded comparable results regarding size and shape. The home ranges of all individuals were located predominantly inside the protected reserves. Their areas were among the largest known for lions with 1131 – 4314 km2 (95%), with no significant differences between males and females. Numerous overlaps between lions of different sexes were detected, although these originate from different groups. A distance chart confirmed that most of these lions directly encountered each other once or several times. Strong temporal variations of the home ranges were observed that did not match a seasonal pattern. The exceptionally large home ranges are likely to be caused by the sparse and dynamic prey populations. Since the ungulates in the study area move in an opportunistic way, too, strong spatiotemporal home range variations emerge. This can lead to misleading home ranges. We therefore recommend clarifying the stability of the home ranges by applying several levels of temporal aggregation. The lack of strict territoriality is likely an adaptation to the variable prey base and the high energetic costs associated with defending a large area.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Uncontrolled Keywords:Animal Science and Zoology
Language:English
Date:2018
Deposited On:04 Jul 2018 12:17
Last Modified:19 Aug 2018 16:04
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0944-2006
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.zool.2018.04.001

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Language: English
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