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Novel predators and anthropogenic disturbance influence spatio-temporal distribution of forest antelope species

Ehlers Smith, Yvette C., Ehlers Smith, David A., Ramesh, Tharmalingam, Downs, Colleen T.
Behavioural processes 2019 v.159 pp. 9-22
Canis mesomelas, Caracal caracal, Cephalophus, Grimmia, Philantomba monticola, Tragelaphus, antelopes, anthropogenic activities, cameras, diurnal activity, dogs, forests, habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation, humans, land use, models, nocturnal activity, planning, predators, spatial distribution, statistics, sympatry, urbanization, Indian Ocean, South Africa
Understanding the effects of anthropogenic disturbance on species’ behaviour is crucial for conservation planning, considering the extent of habitat loss. We investigated the influence of anthropogenic disturbances including agriculture, urbanisation, protected areas, and the presence of novel predators, on the temporal and spatial behaviour of sympatric forest antelope (Tragelaphus scriptus, Philantomba monticola, Sylvicapra grimmia, and Cephalophus natalensis) in an anthropogenic matrix containing forest fragments in the Indian Ocean Coastal Belt of South Africa. We integrated land-use types with camera-trap data and compared activity patterns using circular statistics and occupancy modelling. Antelope species overlapped in temporal and spatial distribution and exhibited diurnal activity for 50% of the time. All species exhibited nocturnal activity for ∼25–33% of all observations, except for C. natalensis. Nocturnal activity varied between species and land-use types. The predators Canis familiaris, C. mesomelas and Caracal caracal negatively influenced occupancy of P. monticola, S. grimmia and C. natalensis. Humans negatively influenced temporal activity of P. monticola, and spatial distribution of T. scriptus and S. grimmia. C. familiaris had an overall negative influence on S. grimmia. We found spatial, and to a lesser extent temporal, segregation between species. However, plasticity in activity patterns existed, which varied in response to anthropogenic effects and novel predators.