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A preliminary study on habitat selection of the Japanese serow (Capricornis crispus) at two temporal scales, season and time of day, in a montane forest


Habitat selection has a significant influence on animals’ fitness, and has been well studied in various ungulates. A trade-off between the access to forage and to shelter often occurs for ungulates’ habitat selections, which vary temporally. However, habitat selections for primitive ungulates with solitary and sedentary, such as the Japanese serow (Capricornis crispus), are poorly known. We examined habitat selection at the within-home range scale of the Japanese serow in a montane forest of Mt. Asama, central Japan, at two temporal scales, season and time of day (day or night), by radio-tracking. Serows selected shrub-rich habitats with steep slopes and avoided shrub-poor habitats with gentle slopes, and their selection showed little variation according to season. Shrub-rich habitats with steep slopes provide both abundant food and shelter against potential danger, which suggests that it is an adequate habitat for serows throughout the year. The habitat selection of serows had few differences according to time of day, which suggests that shrub-rich habitats with steep slopes are suitable for both feeding and resting (i.e., all times of day). Our results suggest that trade-offs between the access to forage and to shelter may be less likely to occur for serow’s habitat selection, unlike other ungulates.

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Availability of data and material

All data analyzed during this study are included in this published article (and its supplementary information files).

Code availability

The code used in the current study is available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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Fieldwork was facilitated by the NPO “Earthworm”; Yuko Fukue, Naoko Higuchi, and other staff members assisted us in the field. Tsuyoshi Takeshita and the staff of the Asama-Sanso Inn also helped with fieldwork. Hiroshi Ebihara, Miki Toda, Keita Nakamura, and Nagisa Hara from Azabu University also helped with this work. We thank Clio Reid, PhD, from Edanz Group for editing a draft of this manuscript.


This study was funded by a research project grant awarded to the authors by the Cooperative Research Program of the Wildlife Research Center of Kyoto University.

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HT contributed to the study conception, design, data collection, and statistical analysis. Capture of serows was conducted by MM and HT. The first draft of the manuscript was written by HT, and MM read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Hayato Takada.

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All authors declares that he has no conflict of interest.

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All investigations were performed in accordance with the Ethics Committee for Animal Experiments, Mount Fuji Research Institute, Yamanashi Prefecture Government (ECAE-01-2013-2019). The study complies with current Japanese laws and adheres to the Mammal Society of Japan guidelines regarding animal welfare.

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Takada, H., Minami, M. A preliminary study on habitat selection of the Japanese serow (Capricornis crispus) at two temporal scales, season and time of day, in a montane forest. J Ethol 40, 91–95 (2022).

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  • Habitat selection
  • Japanese serow
  • Capricornis crispus
  • Forage
  • Shelter
  • Trade-off