Acta Theriologica

, Volume 58, Issue 2, pp 189–197 | Cite as

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

  • Jan A. J. NelEmail author
  • Rudi J. Loutit
  • Rod Braby
  • Michael J. Somers
Original Paper


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.


Canis mesomelas Desert coast Resource dispersion Spatial organization 



Financial support was provided by the Universities of Stellenbosch and Pretoria and the National Research Foundation to Nel. Permission for conducting research and logistic support was provided by the Ministry of Wildlife and Tourism, Namibia. We thank Steven Braine, John Patterson, John Knowles, Maans Dreyer, Johan Botha and Jackie Ackerman for assisting with fieldwork. The late W.S. Barnard kindly suggested and supplied references on Namib Desert climate. We are grateful to Hans Kruuk for improvements of the previous draft.


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Copyright information

© Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Białowieża, Poland 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan A. J. Nel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rudi J. Loutit
    • 2
  • Rod Braby
    • 2
  • Michael J. Somers
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Botany and ZoologyUniversity of StellenboschStellenboschSouth Africa
  2. 2.Ministry of Wildlife and TourismWindhoekNamibia
  3. 3.Centre for Wildlife ManagementUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

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