Population density, spatiotemporal use and diet of the leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) in a human-modified succession forest landscape of Singapore

Abstract

Leopard cats (Prionailurus bengalensis) are wild felids that have been reported to thrive in human-modified habitats in Asia. It has been suggested that they may be adapters of plantation forests by exploiting the availability of murid prey and are abundant in these habitats. However, these hypotheses have yet to be tested or quantified. Here, camera trapping, qualitative and quantitative diet analyses were used to determine the occurrence, population density, activity pattern and diet of leopard cats in human-modified habitats in Singapore. Leopard cat density and habitat use were higher in oil palm monoculture environs compared to secondary forests and were negatively related with canopy closure and distance from plantation. Leopard cats were exclusively nocturnal in the monoculture area, but also exhibited diurnal activity in secondary forests. Consumption of nocturnal murids was significantly higher in the monocultures than secondary forests. Our results provide evidence that leopard cats thrive in oil palm monocultures where they forage on murid prey.

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Acknowledgements

The first author would like to thank Peter K.L. Ng for supervising the project and providing valuable comments on the manuscript. We thank the Ministry of Defence and the National Parks Board (research permit NP/RP10-086) for their kind permission to conduct biodiversity research on Pulau Tekong and for their generous support of the project. We are grateful to Airani Ramli, Alan Tan, Celine Low, Francis Lim, Kelvin Lim, Paul Chen, Robert Teo, Robin Ngiam, Subaraj Rajathurai, Tan Siong Kiat, Vilma D’Rozario, Wang Luan Keng and Yeo Keng Hui for their assistance in the field. Amrita Srivathsan and Denise Tan provided valuable assistance with genetic work. This project was funded by the Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Grant. Finally, we thank the four anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions to improve the submitted manuscript.

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Correspondence to Marcus A. H. Chua.

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Communicated by: Krzysztof Schmidt

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Chua, M.A.H., Sivasothi, N. & Meier, R. Population density, spatiotemporal use and diet of the leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) in a human-modified succession forest landscape of Singapore. Mamm Res 61, 99–108 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13364-015-0259-4

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Keywords

  • Activity pattern
  • Felidae
  • Habitat use
  • Oil palm
  • Scat analysis