, Volume 58, Issue 2, pp 189-197
Date: 10 Nov 2012

Resource dispersion, territory size and group size of black-backed jackals on a desert coast

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We studied the relationship between resource—food patch—richness and dispersion on group and territory size of black-backed jackals Canis mesomelas in the Namib Desert. Along beaches where food patches are mostly small, widely separated jackal group sizes are small, and territories are narrow and extremely elongated. Where food patches are rich, fairly clumped and also heterogeneous, group sizes are large and territory sizes small. At a superabundant and highly clumped food source—a large seal rookery—group sizes are large, and territoriality is absent. Although jackals feed at the coast and den nearby, individuals move linearly far inland along well-defined footpaths. The marked climatic gradient from the cold coast inland—a drop in wind speed and rise in effective temperature T e – and use of particular paths by different groups—strongly suggests that these movements are for thermoregulatory reasons only.

Communicated by: Matthew W. Hayward