European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 59, Issue 4, pp 487–494 | Cite as

Effect of prey mass and selection on predator carrying capacity estimates

  • Esmarie Jooste
  • Matt W. Hayward
  • Ross T. Pitman
  • Lourens H. Swanepoel
Original Paper

Abstract

The ability to determine the prey-specific biomass intake of large predators is fundamental to their conservation. In the absence of actual prey data, researchers generally use a “unit mass” method (estimated as 3/4 adult female mass) to calculate the biomass intake of predators. However, differences in prey preference and range across geographic regions are likely to have an influence on biomass calculations. Here we investigate the influence of estimated prey mass on leopard biomass calculations, and subsequent carrying capacity estimates, in an understudied mountain population. Potential leopard feeding sites were identified using global positioning system (GPS) location clusters obtained from GPS collars. We investigated 200 potential leopard feeding sites, of which 96 were actual feeding sites. Jaw bones, horns, hooves, and other indicative bones were used to determine gender and age of prey items, which were subsequently used to calculate mass of each prey item based on previously published values. There were significant differences in the biomass values calculated using the traditional unit mass method and the calculated prey masses obtained from leopard feeding sites. However, there were no considerable differences in the carrying capacity estimates using the preferred prey species model and leopard density estimates calculated using a non-biased spatial approach, which suggests that estimating carnivore carrying capacity based on 3/4 adult female masses is a reliable method also for the mountain population in this study.

Keywords

Biomass calculation Carnivore ecology Carrying capacity Diet GPS Panthera pardus 

References

  1. Bisset C, Bernard RTF, Parker DM (2012) The response of lions (Panthera leo) to changes in prey abundance on an enclosed reserve in South Africa. Acta Theriol 57:225–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Buys D, Keogh HJ (1984) Notes on the microstructure of hair of the Orycteropodidae, Elephantidae, Equidae, Suidae and Giraffidae. S Afr J Wild Res 14:111–119Google Scholar
  3. Child G (1964) Growth and ageing criteria of impala, Aepyceros melampus. Arnoldia 27:128–135Google Scholar
  4. De Klerk A (2003) Waterberg biosphere: a land use model for ecotourism development. MSc Thesis, University of Pretoria.Google Scholar
  5. Dreyer JH (1966) A study of the hair morphology in the family Bovidae. Onderstepoort J Vet Res 379–472Google Scholar
  6. Efford M (2004) Density estimation in live-trapping studies. Oikos 106:598–610CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Efford MG (2012) secr: Spatially explicit capture–recapture models. R package version 2.3.2. http://CRAN.R-project.org/package=secr. Accessed 1 Aug 2012
  8. Efford MG, Borchers DL, Byrom AE (2009) Density estimation by spatially explicit capture–recapture: likelihood-based methods. In: Thompson DL, Cooch EG, Conroy MJ (eds) Modeling demographic processes in marked populations. Springer, New York, pp 255–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Estes JA, Terborgh J, Brashares JS, Power ME, Berger J, Bond WJ, Carpenter SR, Essington TE, Holt RD, Jackson JBC, Marquis RJ, Oksanen L, Oksanen T, Paine RT, Pikitch EK, Ripple WJ, Sandin SA, Scheffer M, Schoener TW, Shurin JB, Sinclair ARE, Soulé ME, Virtanen R, Wardle DA (2011) Trophic downgrading of planet Earth. Science 333:301–306PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Frank L, Simpson D, Woodroffe R (2003) Foot snares: an effective method for capturing African lions. Wildl Soc Bull 31:309–314Google Scholar
  11. Fuller TK, Sievert PR (2001) Carnivore demography and the consequences of changes in prey availability. In: Gittleman JL, Funk SM, MacDonald DW, Wayne RK (eds) Carnivore conservation. Cambridge University Press and the Zoological Society of London, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  12. Gerber B, Karpanty S, Kelly MJ (2012) Evaluating the potential biases in carnivore capture–recapture studies associated with the use of lure and varying density estimation techniques using photographic-sampling data of the Malagasy civet. Popul Ecol 54:43–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gray TNE, Prum S (2012) Leopard density in post-conflict landscape, Cambodia: evidence from spatially explicit capture–recapture. J Wildl Manag 76:163–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Grimbeek AM (1992) The ecology of the leopard (Panthera pardus) in the Waterberg. MSc Thesis, University of PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  15. Gusset M, Burgener N (2005) Estimating larger carnivore numbers from track counts and measurements. Afr J Ecol 43:320–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hayward MW (2006) Prey preferences of the spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta) and degree of dietary overlap with the lion (Panthera leo). J Zool (London) 270:606–614CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hayward MW, Kerley GIH (2005) Prey preferences of the lion (Panthera leo). J Zool (London) 267:309–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hayward MW, Henschel P, O'Brien J, Hofmeyr M, Balme G, Kerley GIH (2006) Prey preferences of the leopard (Panthera pardus). J Zool (London) 270:298–313Google Scholar
  19. Hayward MW, Adendorff J, Moolman LC, Hayward GJ, Kerley GIH (2007a) The successful reintroduction of leopard Panthera pardus to the Addo Elephant National Park. Afr J Ecol 45:103–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hayward MW, O’Brien J, Kerley GIH (2007b) Carrying capacity of large African predators: predictions and tests. Biol Conserv 139:219–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jooste E, Pitman RT, Van Hoven W, Swanepoel LH (2012) Unusually high predation on Chacma baboons by female leopards in the Waterberg Mountains, South Africa. Folia Primatol 83:353–360PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Karanth KU, Nichols JD (1998) Estimation of tiger densities in India using photographic captures and recaptures. Ecology 79:2852–2862CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Karanth KU, Nichols JD (eds) (2002) Monitoring tigers and their prey: a manual for researchers, managers and conservationists in Tropical Asia. Centre for Wildlife Studies, BangaloreGoogle Scholar
  24. Karanth KU, Chundawat RS, Nichols JD, Kumar NS (2004) Estimation of tiger densities in the tropical dry forests of Panna, Central India, using photographic capture–recapture sampling. Anim Conserv 7:285–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Keogh HJ (1979) An atlas of hair from southern African mammal species with reference to its taxonomic and ecological significance. Dissertation, University of PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  26. Keogh HJ (1983) A photographic reference system of the microstructure of the hair of southern African bovids. S Afr J Wildl Res 13:89–132Google Scholar
  27. Kilian PJ (2003) The ecology of reintroduced lions on the Welgevonden Private Game Reserve, Waterberg. Thesis, University of PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  28. Martins Q, Horsnell WGC, Titus W, Rautenbach T, Harris S (2011) Diet determination of the Cape Mountain leopards using global positioning system location clusters and SCAT analysis. J Zool (London) 283:81–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Norton PM, Fairall N (1991) Mountain reedbuck Redunca fulvorufula growth and age determination using dentition. J Zool (London) 225:293–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Noss AJ, Gardner B, Maffei L, Cuéllar E, Montaño R, Romero-Muñoz A, Sollman R, O'Connell AF (2012) Comparison of density estimation methods for mammal populations with camera traps in the Kaa-lya del Gran Chaco landscape. Anim Conserv 15(5):527–535Google Scholar
  31. Obbard ME, Howe EJ, Kyle CJ (2010) Empirical comparison of density estimators for large carnivores. J Appl Ecol 47:76–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Owen-Smith N, Mills MGL (2008) Predator–prey size relationships in an African large-mammal food web. J Anim Ecol 77:173–183PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pitman RT, Swanepoel LH, Ramsay PM (2012) Predictive modelling of leopard predation using contextual Global Positioning System cluster analysis. J Zool (London) 288:222–230Google Scholar
  34. Radloff FGT, Du Toit JT (2004) Large predators and their prey in a southern African savanna: a predator's size determines its prey size range. J Anim Ecol 73:410–423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rexstadt E, Burnham K (1991) User's guide for interactive program CAPTURE. Colorado Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. Colorado State University, Fort CollinsGoogle Scholar
  36. Roettcher D, Hofmann RR (1970) The ageing of impala from a population in the Kenya rift valley. East Afr Wildl J 8:37–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Schaller GB (1972) The Serengeti lion. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  38. Seydack AHW (1983) Age assessment of the bushpig Potamochoerus porcus Linn. 1758 in the Southern Cape. Thesis, University of PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  39. Simpson CD (1966) Tooth eruption, growth and ageing criteria in greater kudu—Tragelaphus strepsiceros Pallas. Arnoldia 2:1–12Google Scholar
  40. Skinner JD, Chimimba CT (Rev) (2005) The mammals of the southern African subregion, 3rd edn. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  41. Smuts GL (1972) Seasonal movements, migration and age determination of Burchell's zebra (Equus burchelli antiquorum, H. Smith, 1841) in the Kruger National Park. Thesis, University of PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  42. Smuts GL (1974) Growth, reproduction and population characteristics of Burchell's zebra (Equus burchelli antiquorum, H. Smith, 1841) in the Kruger National Park. Dissertation, University of PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  43. Soisolo MK, Cavalcanti SMC (2006) Estimating the density of a jaguar population in the Brazilian Pantanal using camera-traps and capture–recapture sampling in combination with GPS radio-telemetry. Biol Conserv 129:487–496CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Stoltz LP (1977) The population dynamics of baboons Papio ursinus Kerr 1792, in the Transvaal. Dissertation, University of PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  45. Strauss RE (1979) Reliability estimates for Ivlev's electivity Index, the forage ratio, and a proposed linear index of food selection. T AM Fish Soc 108:344–352CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Tambling CJ, Cameron EZ, Du Toit JT, Getz WM (2010) Methods for locating African lion kills using global position system movement data. J Wildl Manage 74:549–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Valeix M, Chamaille´-Jammes S, Loveridge AJ, Davidson Z, Hunt JE, Madzikanda H, Macdonald DW (2011) Understanding patch departure rules for large carnivores: lion movements support a patch-disturbance hypothesis. Am Nat 178:269–275PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Van Orsdol KG, Hanby JP, Bygott JD (1985) Ecological correlates of lion social organisation (Panthera leo). J Zool (London) 206:97–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wang SW, Macdonald DW (2009) The use of camera traps for estimating tiger and leopard populations in the high altitude mountains of Bhutan. Biol Conserv 142:606–613CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wilson VJ (1965) Observations on the greater kudu Tragelaphus strepsiceros Pallas from a tsetse control hunting scheme in Northern Rhodesia. East Afr Wildl J 3:27–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wilson VJ, Child G (1965) Notes on klipspringer from tsetse fly control areas in Eastern Zambia. Arnoldia 1:1–19Google Scholar
  52. Wilson VJ, Schmidt JL, Hanks J (1984) Age determination and body growth of the common duiker Sylvicapra grimmia (Mammalia). J Zool (London) 202:283–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Esmarie Jooste
    • 1
  • Matt W. Hayward
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ross T. Pitman
    • 3
  • Lourens H. Swanepoel
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Wildlife ManagementUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Australian Wildlife ConservancyVictoriaAustralia
  3. 3.Marine Biology and Ecology Research CentrePlymouth UniversityPlymouthUK

Personalised recommendations