Michael J. Somers

Michael J. Somers
University of Pretoria | UP · Mammal Research Institute

PhD

About

265
Publications
106,411
Reads
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3,629
Citations
Introduction
Our group is interested in many aspects of wildlife biology, especially carnivore ecology. We aim to produce applied research, with practical conservation application/ value. Present academic positions include Eugène Marais Chair of Wildlife Management, member of the Mammal Research Institute and Core Team Member of the Centre for Invasion Biology, Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria.
Additional affiliations
July 2018 - May 2020
University of Pretoria
Position
  • Lecturer
Description
  • I am a lecturer in the Mammal Research Institute, Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria but lecture Wildlife Management across faculties.
April 2006 - present
University of Pretoria
Position
  • Lecturer
April 2006 - July 2018
University of Pretoria
Position
  • Lecturer
Education
February 1994 - February 2001
Stellenbosch University
Field of study
  • Zoology

Publications

Publications (265)
Book
The conflict between increasing human population and biodiversity conservation is one of the IUCN’s key threatening processes. Conservation planning has received a great deal of coverage and research as a way of conserving biodiversity yet, while theoretically successful, it has never been tested. Simple lines on maps to illustrate conservation are...
Book
Large predators are among the most threatened species on the planet and ways of conserving them in the face of increasing human populations and associated resource requirements are becoming critical. This book draws upon the experiences of some of the world's foremost large carnivore specialists to discuss the numerous issues associated reintroduci...
Chapter
Full-text available
Reintroductions are becoming increasingly important in conservation management, particularly for large carnivores. Despite an increase in our understanding of carnivore social behaviour, wildlife managers often disregard this knowledge when reintroducing animals-largely owing to behavioural ecology and reintroduction biology rarely being unifi ed i...
Article
Full-text available
We analysed 25 years (1980-2004) of demographic data on a small re-introduced population of endangered African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP), South Africa, to describe population and pack dynamics. As small populations of cooperative breeders may be particularly prone to Allee effects, this extensive data set was used to...
Article
Full-text available
In South Africa, a plan was launched to manage separate sub-populations of endangered African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) in several small, geographically isolated conservation areas as a single meta-population. This intensive management approach involves the re-introduction of wild dogs into suitable conservation areas and periodic translocations am...
Conference Paper
Burrowing is a behavioural strategy used by various species to escape extreme climatic conditions of arid and semi-arid areas. However, burrows are also useful for activities such as food storage, avoiding predation or rearing offspring. Therefore, understanding burrow use is key to understanding the ecology and behaviour of the animals that depend...
Conference Paper
Since the Pleistocene, there was a global decline in large mammals, with some 14% of large mammal species becoming extinct within Africa. In the southern Cape of South Africa, where megaherbivores have either become extinct or been extirpated, many protected areas are now reintroducing species for ecotourism. However, the ecological effects of thes...
Article
Evaluating how intrinsic (intraspecific density), extrinsic (interspecific density and prey density) and anthropogenic (management intervention) factors affect African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) population performance is key to implementing effective conservation strategies. Lions (Panthera leo) can affect wild dog populations, and in small and highl...
Conference Paper
Solitary carnivores strongly rely on scent marking to communicate and are either attracted or repelled by scents of conspecifics or heterospecifics. Using the African leopard (Panthera pardus) as a model species, we investigated the potential of scent marking as a potential tool for mitigating human-wildlife conflict by manipulating carnivore movem...
Chapter
The African civet, Civettictis civetta, is the largest member of the Viverridae family and one of the most widely distributed mesocarnivores in Africa. Despite its wide geographic distribution, little is known about its ecology, behaviour, and conservation biology, such as abundance and density. Mesocarnivores can play important roles in ecosystem...
Chapter
Small carnivores – here defined as members of the mammalian Order Carnivora with a body mass < 21.5 kg – occur worldwide, including in Oceania, following introductions. They are represented by 210 to 282 species, which corresponds to around 90% of terrestrial carnivores globally. Some species are endemic to one or two countries (sometimes only isla...
Book
Full-text available
This book focuses on the 232 species of the mammalian Order Carnivora with an average body mass < 21.5 kg. Small carnivores inhabit virtually all of the Earth's ecosystems, adopting terrestrial, semi-fossorial, (semi-)arboreal or (semi-)aquatic lifestyles. They occupy multiple trophic levels and therefore play important roles in the regulation of e...
Article
Full-text available
Species that respond to ecosystem change in a timely, measurable, and interpretable way can be used as sentinels of global change. Contrary to a pervasive view, we suggest that, among Carnivora, small carnivores are more appropriate sentinels than large carnivores. This reasoning is built around six key points: that, compared to large carnivores, s...
Conference Paper
The world’s oceans are negatively impacted by humans, resulting in continual threats to ocean ecosystem health. South African oceans are no exception and with the need for economic growth in the country, pressures on ocean resources are increasing. In this study we aimed to determine the trends between 2003 and 2013 of 14 individual stressors, and...
Article
Context: The spatio-temporal partitioning of large carnivores is influenced by interspecific competition and coexistence within small, enclosed reserves. Lions (Panthera leo), spotted hyaenas (Crocuta crocuta) and leopards (Panthera pardus) are the three largest African carnivores and have the greatest potential for intra-guild competition, particu...
Conference Paper
Activity patterns of carnivore species reflect temporal niche dimensions adapted to facilitate effective utilisation of resources, avoid risk and acclimate to physical environmental conditions. Therefore, to elucidate the use of time as a method of coexistence among carnivores, we assessed seasonal differences and overlap in daily activity patterns...
Conference Paper
Owing to costly, labour intensive or timeconsuming survey methods there is a lack of robust population data for cryptic carnivores in many areas. Population data are important for the management of these species in enclosed, fenced protected areas as species’ natural migratory patterns are restricted. In this study we used three different camera tr...
Cover Page
Full-text available
The regular issue 7(1) of the journal "Nature Conservation Research" (http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/) has been released. It is stored here: http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/journal/38. The cover shows the male Urothemis edwardsii (Selys, 1849) in the National Park of El Kala, Algeria (Author: Dr. Rassim Khelifa). This issue of the journal "Natur...
Article
Full-text available
Anthropogenic land transformation is a consequence of human population growth and the associated agricultural, residential, and industrial needs. This study aimed to investigate the effects of anthropogenic activity and human-mediated land transformation on capture/recapture frequencies, species richness, and diversity of native small mammal commun...
Article
Despite the abundance of rock hyrax Procavia capensis within South Africa's urban areas, there is not much information available about the effect of anthropogenic activities on rock hyrax wellbeing. To determine the potential impact of anthropogenic disturbance on adrenocortical activity, we conducted an ACTH challenge to identify a suitable enzyme...
Article
Despite the diversity of mesocarnivores and the broad geographic ranges of these species, our understanding of their behaviour and ecology at multi-species and community levels is limited. Our study was conducted between April and mid-July 2015 and used data collected over 105 days from 39 camera traps to quantify activity patterns of sympatric mes...
Conference Paper
Anthropogenic land transformation is a direct response to human population growth and the associated agricultural, residential and industrial needs. This study aimed to examine the effects of anthropogenic activity and human-mediated land transformation on capture frequency, species richness and diversity of native small mammal community assemblage...
Cover Page
Full-text available
The regular issue 6(4) of the journal "Nature Conservation Research" (http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/) has been released. It is stored here: http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/journal/37. The cover shows the female wolf (Canis lupus Linnaeus, 1758) in the buffer zone of the Daursky State Nature Biosphere Reserve, Russia (Author: Sergey Vysotin). Th...
Conference Paper
Southern Africa has a diverse large carnivore guild. When this large carnivore guild is confined to small, fenced, protected areas, the degree of intraguild competition increases. Dietary overlap is a notable point of competition and can have considerable effects on subordinate trophic levels. We considered the prey preferences and dietary overlap...
Conference Paper
The spatio-temporal partitioning of large carnivores is influenced by interspecific competition and coexistence within small, enclosed reserves. Lions (Panthera leo), spotted hyaenas (Crocuta crocuta) and leopards (Panthera pardus) are the three largest African carnivores and have the greatest potential for intra-guild competition, particularly whe...
Cover Page
Full-text available
The regular issue 6(3) of the journal "Nature Conservation Research" (http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/) has been released. It is stored here: http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/journal/36. The cover shows two male Blood pheasants (Ithaginis cruentus Hardwicke, 1821) on the alpine rocky-cliffs of Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve (India) (Authors: Bi...
Article
Understanding the diving behavior of semiaquatic mammals, particularly in relation to estimated aerobic dive limits and diet, is important to understand their adaptability and potential vulnerability to changes in prey type and distribution. The diving behavior of African clawless otters, Aonyx capensis, and spotted-necked otters, Hydrictis maculic...
Cover Page
Full-text available
The regular issue 6(2) of the journal "Nature Conservation Research" (http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/) has been released. It is stored here: http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/journal/35. The cover shows cubs of brown bear (Ursus arctos Linnaeus, 1867) feeding by sockeye salmon, South Kamchatka (Photo: PhD Sergey A. Kolchin). This issue of the jour...
Cover Page
Full-text available
The special issue 6(Suppl.1) of the journal "Nature Conservation Research" (http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/) has been released: http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/journal/33. This issue is entitled "Protected Areas in the Green Belt of Fennoscandia" being devoted to the anniversary of the Kostomuksha State Nature Reserve. The cover shows the wild r...
Cover Page
Full-text available
The regular issue 6(1) of the journal "Nature Conservation Research" (http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/) has been released today. It is stored here: http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/journal/34. The cover shows Pelias kaznakovi (Nikolsky, 1909) in Sochi National Park (Russia) (Photo: Dr.Sc. Boris S. Tuniyev). This issue of the journal "Nature Conser...
Article
Full-text available
Nature is experiencing degradation and extinction rates never recorded before in the history of Earth.1,2 Consequently, continuous large-scale monitoring programmes are critical, not only to provide insights into population trends but also to aid in understanding factors associated with altering population dynamics at various temporal and spatial s...
Article
Full-text available
Apex predators play a critical role in maintaining the health of ecosystems but are highly susceptible to habitat degradation and loss caused by land-use changes, and to anthropogenic mortality. The leopard Panthera pardus is the last free-roaming large carnivore in the Western Cape province, South Africa. During 2011–2015, we carried out a camera-...
Conference Paper
Algoa Bay, South Africa has a diverse array of marine top-predators, including Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus), Indian Ocean humpback dolphin (Sousa plumbea), long-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus capensis), Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera brydei), southern right whale (Eubalaena australis), humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), A...
Cover Page
Full-text available
This issue of the journal "Nature Conservation Research" contains articles devoted to varous taxonomic groups of plants and animals in Europe, Asia and Africa. It includes research articles devoted to study vascular plants, inveterbrates, mammals, and phenological observations of nature. Some insect groups (Diptera, Hymenoptera) were studied in Pro...
Cover Page
Full-text available
The special issue 5(Suppl.2) of the journal "Nature Conservation Research" (http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/) has been released: http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/journal/31. This issue is entitled "PARASITOLOGICAL STUDIES IN PROTECTED AREAS". The cover shows the brook Da Brout in the Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam (Photo: Irina I. Semenyuk, Russi...
Cover Page
Full-text available
The special issue 5(Suppl.1) of the journal "Nature Conservation Research" (http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/) has been released: http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/journal/30. This issue is entitled as "ORCHID CONSERVATION". The cover shows Calypso bulbosa L. in spruce-pine forest with a dominant green moss layer (Leningrad region, Russia) (Photo: D...
Article
Full-text available
In southern African waters, information about species distribution and habitat preferences of many cetacean species is limited, despite the recent economic growth that may affect them. We determined the relative importance of eight environmental variables (bathymetry, distance to shore, slope, chlorophyll-a, salinity, eastwards sea water velocity,...
Article
Full-text available
Intra-guild interactions related to facilitation and competition can be strong forces structuring ecological communities and have been suggested as particularly prominent for large carnivores. The African lion (Panthera leo) is generally thought to be a dominant predator where it occurs and can be expected to have broad effects on sympatric carnivo...
Article
The world's oceans are subject to the multiple impacts of human activity and to the consequent threats to the health of many and varied ocean ecosystems. Oceans around South Africa are no exception and, with the need for economic growth in the country, anthropogenic stressors on ocean resources are rapidly increasing. In this study, we investigated...
Article
Full-text available
The diet of the marsh or water mongoose Atilax paludinosus has been well studied in coastal and inland riverine habitats, where crabs often constitute the main prey in terms of frequency of occurrence. We investigated the feeding ecology of a small number of marsh mongooses living next to a small, non-permanent reservoir (Andries Vosloo Kudu Nature...
Article
Human-wildlife conflict is likely to increase as urbanisation increases. African clawless otters, Aonyx capensis, and spotted-necked otters, Hydrictis maculicollis, are illegally persecuted for their perceived role in reducing trout in artificially stocked habitats in South Africa. The diet of African clawless otters has been investigated, but litt...
Article
Rigorous status estimates of populations of large carnivores are necessary to inform their management and help evaluate the effectiveness of conservation interventions. The African leopard Panthera pardus faces rising anthropogenic pressures across most of its contracting sub-Saharan range, but the scarcity of reliable population estimates means th...
Article
Full-text available
Lion predation on cattle causes severe human–wildlife conflict that results in retaliatory persecution throughout the lion’s geographic range. Cattle closely resemble the body size, shape, and herding patterns of preferred lion prey species. We studied cattle depredation patterns in Botswana’s Okavango Delta and tested whether lions exhibited speci...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this chapter we review the current knowledge on terrestrial vertebrate invasions in South Africa. Thirty species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians are considered to have arrived over the last 10,000 years, with two thirds having become invasive in the last 150 years. Half of the species are mammals, a third birds, with three reptiles an...
Article
We propose improvements for addressing the inadequate sustainable use of wildlife resources in the community‐based natural resource management (CBNRM) programme in game management areas (GMAs) using case study data from Mumbwa and Lupande GMAs in Zambia. Firstly, we assess the sustainability of wildlife resources in these GMAs using design principl...
Article
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are important for the preservation of ecosystem functioning, ecosystem services, resilience and biodiversity around the world. In South Africa, the role of MPAs in the protection of cetaceans is poorly understood, a knowledge gap that may affect management decisions and future cetacean conservation. Here, we used prese...
Cover Page
Full-text available
The regular issue 4(4) of the journal "Nature Conservation Research" (http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/) has been released today. It is stored here: http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/journal/17. The cover shows Ursus arctos in the Central Forest State Nature Biosphere Reserve (Russia) (photo taken by a camera trap; provided by Sergey S. Ogurtsov). T...
Article
Full-text available
Social integration is an important factor when reintroducing group-living species, but examples of the formation of social groups before reintroduction are largely lacking. African wild dogs Lycaon pictus are endangered, and reintroductions have become a routine part of range expansion in South Africa. Wild dogs form packs that are essential to the...
Poster
Species-specific population data is important for the effective management and conservation of wildlife populations within protected areas. Spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta) population density will be determined for Madikwe Game Reserve. Individual photos will be collected over a three-month period opportunistically. These images will be combined wi...
Conference Paper
As we see a trend towards small fenced conservation areas across Africa, reintroductions are an increasingly important conservation tool. Species-specific population data is important for the effective management and conservation of wildlife populations within protected areas. Spotted hyaena (Crocuta Crocuta) population data will be determined for...
Conference Paper
Space use strongly affects fitness where non-linear ecological variables drive spatial arrangements in carnivores. However, extreme variation in ecological factors is difficult to test empirically, especially in open systems. We used a reintroduced and spatially restricted population of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park to...
Conference Paper
Introducing consumptive and non-consumptive effects into food webs can have profound effects on individuals, populations and communities. Consequently, the deliberate use of predation and/or fear of predation is an emerging technique for controlling wildlife. Many now advocate for the intentional use of large carnivores and livestock guardian dogs...
Cover Page
Full-text available
The regular issue 4(3) of the journal "Nature Conservation Research" (http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/) has been released today. It is stored here: http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/journal/16. The cover shows Cervus elaphus xanthopygus in the State Nature Reserve «Bolshekhekhtsirskiy» (Russia) (photo taken by a camera trap; provided by Dr. Rimma S...
Cover Page
Full-text available
The special issue 4(Suppl.1) of the journal "Nature Conservation Research" (http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/) has been released today. It is stored here: http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/journal/24. This issue is entitled as "Wildfire management and wildfire impact on biodiversity in Protected Areas". The cover shows evidence of the wildfire in th...
Article
Individual-level behavioural plasticity resulting from differences in environmental conditions is prevalent in many organisms and may result in phenomena such as dietary- or habitat specialisation. The isotopic niche of African clawless otters, Aonyx capensis, occupying different habitats was investigated with the use of stable isotope techniques....
Article
In Africa's pastoral conservation landscapes, apex predators frequently kill livestock. Retaliatory persecution such as poisoning threatens predators, but also non-target biota. Several factors influence conflict severity, including livestock husbandry, overlap in seasonal habitat use, and the degree to which livestock perceive and are able to resp...
Conference Paper
Latrines are often used for scent communication by both solitary and group-living animals. Using 44 camera-traps, we investigated how Cape and small-spotted genets (Genetta spp.) use latrines in the Great Fish River Nature Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Data were collected from September 2017 to August 2018 (n = 9,877 trap-days). We captured...
Cover Page
Full-text available
The special issue 4(Suppl.2) of the journal "Nature Conservation Research" (http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/) has been released today. It is stored here: http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/journal/25. This issue is entitled as "Conservation of equid taxa". The cover shows Przewalski’s horses (Equus ferus przewalskii Poliakov, 1881) in the Pre-Urals...
Article
Understanding and quantifying a large carnivores’ feeding behaviour is a key component in determining its functional significance in an ecosystem, both in terms of its top‐down influence on prey species, but also its relationships with sympatric carnivores. Dietary overlap is one of the numerous niche dimensions used to characterize resource partit...
Article
Full-text available
Compassionate conservation focuses on 4 tenets: first, do no harm; individuals matter; inclusivity of individual animals; and peaceful coexistence between humans and animals. Recently, compassionate conservation has been promoted as an alternative to conventional conservation philosophy. We believe examples presented by compassionate conservationis...
Cover Page
Full-text available
The regular issue 4(2) of the journal "Nature Conservation Research" (http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/) has been released today. It is stored here: http://ncr-journal.bear-land.org/journal/15. The cover shows Colchicum ancyrense in the Karadag State Nature Reserve (Crimea) (author: Dr. A.V. Fateryga). This issue of the journal "Nature Conservation...
Article
Science (E-letter) https://science.sciencemag.org/content/364/6438/eaav5570/tab-e-letters Rewilding needs to clarify the role of management of invasive species Matt W. Hayward, Associate Professor of Conservation Biology, University of Newcastle, Australia Other Contributors: David S. Jachowski, Professor of Conservation, Clemson University Craig...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding factors that affect the reproductive output and growth of a population of endangered carnivores is key to providing information for their effective conservation. Here, we assessed patterns in reproduction for a small population of endangered African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) over 90 pack years. We tested how availability of prey, pack...