Time allocation and patterns of activity of the dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas) in a sahelian habitat

Abstract

The patterns of activity are a reflection of the adaptation of a species to its habitat. This study reports the patterns of activity and time allocation of the dorcas gazelle following their reintroduction process from the captivity to semi-wild conditions in a sahelian habitat. Activity of three adult males was recorded using GPS collars equipped with a temperature sensor and acceleration sensors recording in two channels, forward–backward (X-axis) and sideways (Y-axis). Collars delivered data for 59, 139 and 151 days. The aim of this work is to assess the ability of dorcas gazelle to adapt its activity schedule to a changing environment. The main activity behaviour observed is resting (59.8 ± 23.9%), followed by feeding (20.9 ± 10.9%), displacement (15.1 ± 14.1%) and running (3.9 ± 5.5%). If resting time is eliminated, the gazelles invest most of their time in feeding (61.0 ± 21.3%) and displacements (30.8 ± 15.6%) and only 7.6 ± 0.6% in running. The dorcas gazelle exhibit three patterns of activity: one diurnal with maximum activity in the central hours of the day, which accounts during the dry-cool season (December, January and February); a bimodal pattern with maximum activity at dust and dark, resting in the middle of the day during the hot-dry season (April) and a transitional pattern in March. Temperature is the main driver of this change in patterns; when average temperature exceeds the body temperature of the dorcas gazelle, the pattern of activity changes from diurnal to bimodal. These results reveal the ability of the dorcas gazelles facing environmental changing conditions in their native habitat.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank the staff of the Direction of National Parks in Dakar as well as in the Guembeul Special Fauna Reserve and North Ferlo Fauna Reserve and Katané for providing technical and field assistance. The authors are also grateful to Ousmane Sonko, Cheikh Ndiaye and M Diediou. We thank Alberto Ruiz for managing the data and figures and to Roberto Lázaro for early comments on this work. We thank three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. This study was funded by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC, Economic and Innovation Ministry), the Barcelona Zoo (BSMSA, Barcelona Municipality) and the Direction of National Parks of Senegal (Environment Ministry).

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Correspondence to Teresa Abáigar.

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Mar Cano died before the completion of this manuscript.

Communicated by: Marietjie Landman

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Abáigar, T., Cano, M. & Ensenyat, C. Time allocation and patterns of activity of the dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas) in a sahelian habitat. Mamm Res 63, 73–82 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13364-017-0334-0

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Keywords

  • Gazella dorcas
  • Time-pattern activity
  • Temporal niche
  • Wildlife reintroduction
  • Sahel