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Wild Cats of the World

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... Age was estimated based on tooth wear and colour, body size, presence of facial scars from territorial disputes and nipple coloration (Johansson et al. 2016). Because large felids grow slowly and do not reach full adult size until 4-5 years of age (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002) and snow leopards are unlikely to reproduce before three years age (Johansson et al. 2021), we classified snow leopards less than or 3 years of age as subadults following Johansson et al. (2016). We provide measurements for body mass (total weight), body length (tip of the nose to base of the tail), tail length (base of the tail to the tip of the last caudal vertebra) and shoulder height (heel of front paw to top of the shoulder blade), see Fig. 2. For individuals that were captured and measured more than once, we provide the average of all measurements except if the animal transitioned between age classes. ...
... pardus, P. tigris and P. onca) which vary in size geographically by up to two times (e.g. average weights of adult male leopards range from 31 kg in Cape Mountains, South Africa to 66 kg in Iran; Sunquist and Sunquist 2002, Farhadinia et al. 2014, Hunter 2015. Temperatures in the high-altitude habitat used by the snow leopards are likely more affected by altitude than latitude, which would explain the lack of correlation between latitude and body mass (see Bergmann's rule; Bergmann 1847). ...
... Sexual dimorphism is common in mammals with polygynous mating systems where males are commonly larger than females because of increased competition for access to breeding females. However, the difference in body mass and size between adult male and female snow leopards was very small compared to jaguars, leopards and tigers where average male body mass range from 1.4 to 1.7 times the body mass of adult females (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002, Wilson and Mittermeyer 2009, Hunter 2015. Snow leopards also show much less sexual dimorphism in craniomandibular and dental size than the other members of Panthera (Christiansen and Harris 2012). ...
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Article
We provide body measurements of snow leopards collected from 55 individuals sampled in five of the major mountain ranges within the species distribution range; the Altai, Hindu Kush, Himalayas, Pamirs and Tien Shan mountains. Snow leopards appear to be similarly sized across their distribution range with mean body masses of 36 kg and 42 kg for adult females and adult males, respectively. In contrast to other large felids, we found little variation in body size and body mass between the sexes; adult males were on average 5% longer and 15% heavier than adult females. Snow Leopard Reports, 1 (2022): 1-6
... (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002;Gill 2009;Cougar Network 2021). Their historical range spanned from northern Yukon territory to southern Chile. ...
... Abundance of white-tailed deer is positively associated with forest cover (Kohn and Mooty 1971;Larson et al. 1978;Rouleau et al. 2002;Munro et al. 2012), thus we indirectly accounted for prey abundance in our analysis. Furthermore, in regions where whitetailed deer densities are low, other staples of cougar diet (i.e., raccoons [Procyon lotor], rabbits [Sylvilagus floridanus], beavers [Castor canadensis]) are present, providing ample prey throughout the study region (Sweanor et al. 2000;Sunquist and Sunquist 2002;Knopff et al. 2010). Abundant prey availability in eastern North America may limit cougar density, but not restrict cougar recolonization of the region (Riley and Malecki 2001;Cooley et al. 2010). ...
... Our models included regions north of historical cougar ranges in Canada (Cardoza and Langolois 2002;Sunquist and Sunquist 2002;Gill 2009). However, as climate change continues to shift the landscape over time, this region of the study area is likely to be impacted as such to improve habitat suitability and prey densities for cougars (Rustad et al. 2012;Dawe and Boutin 2016). ...
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Article
Context Cougars (Puma concolor) have been recolonizing Midwestern North America during the past 3 decades with > 950 cougar confirmations east of established populations. Due to an increase in confirmations east of current breeding populations, evaluation of cougar habitat suitability and connectivity is needed. However, few studies have assessed the habitat potential for cougar recolonization in the eastern portion of their former range. Objectives We used various habitat quality thresholds to model potential cougar habitats and dispersal corridors throughout eastern North America. Methods Based on expert opinion, we used landcover, slope, human density, distance to roads, and distance to water as model variables. Least-cost path methods were used to model dispersal corridors from western populations to potential eastern habitat patches. Results Patches of suitable habitat ranged in size from 3868 km² (Ozark Mountains) to > 2,490,850 km² (central and eastern Canada). Potential habitats were predominantly forest and shrubland, contained little anthropogenic development, and had high stream densities. Dispersal corridors were present throughout the study area. Corridors largely consisted of forested and cultivated landscapes and had higher road densities than habitat patches. Conclusions Our research provides conservationists with insights into areas suitable for cougar recolonization so they may proactively plan for potential cougar populations east of their current range. This work also provides a framework for evaluating multiple levels of landscape suitability for recolonizing species.
... Felids possess a range of intraspecific vocalizations for close, medium, and long range communication. These vocalizations can vary from discrete calls such as the spit or hiss to more graded calls such as the mew, main call, growl and snarl Sunquist and Sunquist [2002]. There is no evidence that felid vocalizations are learned: it is more likely that these calls are genetically determined Peters [1978], Ehret [1980], Romand and Ehret [1984]. ...
... Pantherinae consists of six species and two genera: Panthera (lions, leopards, jaguars, tigers and snow leopards) and Neofelis (clouded leopards) (Fig. 5). The set of extant states are for 10 of the vocalizations documented in Sunquist and Sunquist [2002], and 9 morphological characteristics compiled from the various sources within Castelló [2020], see where binned into ranks starting from 1 (largest, or longest, etc.), to 2, to 3, etc. Finally, the cost for changing to a different state is 1, and to an unknown state is ∞ (e.g., Fig. 1c). ...
... This is consistent with the fact that the roaring sequence is known only those felid species. While grunts are most often used as part of a roaring sequence, grunts can also be used alone in certain situations such as females calling for cubs Sunquist and Sunquist [2002]. Not surprisingly, the gain of a grunt also significantly co-occurs with an increase in BL/SL ratio along the same lineage (z = 2.2). ...
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Article
When studying the evolutionary relationships among a set of species, the principle of parsimony states that a relationship involving the fewest number of evolutionary events is likely the correct one. Due to its simplicity, this principle was formalized in the context of computational evolutionary biology decades ago by, for example, Fitch and Sankoff. Because the parsimony framework does not require a model of evolution, unlike maximum likelihood or Bayesian approaches, it is often a good starting point when no reasonable estimate of such a model is available. In this work, we devise a method for determining if pairs of discrete characters are significantly correlated across all most parsimonious reconstructions, given a set of species on these characters, and an evolutionary tree. The first step of this method is to use Sankoff's algorithm to compute all most parsimonious assignments of ancestral states (of each character) to the internal nodes of the phylogeny. Correlation between a pair of evolutionary events (e.g., absent to present) for a pair of characters is then determined by the (co-) occurrence patterns between the sets of their respective ancestral assignments. The probability of obtaining a correlation this extreme (or more) under a null hypothesis where the events happen randomly on the evolutionary tree is then used to assess the significance of this correlation. We implement this method: parcours (PARsimonious CO-occURrenceS) and use it to identify significantly correlated evolution among vocalizations and morphological characters in the Felidae family.
... pardalis), weighing up to 15 kg, to smaller cats such as tigrinas (L. tigrinus complex), weighing at most 3.5 kg (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). ...
... Within this genus, the ocelot and margay are sister species that are broadly sympatric across most tropical regions of South, Central and North America (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). They have contrasting morphological features, with the ocelot being larger, more robust and bearing a relatively shorter tail, while the margay is smaller and more gracile, weighing at most 5 kg and exhibiting a much longer tail. ...
... Both occur in various habitats, but the ocelot is more generalist than the margay, which is more associated with forests (de Oliveira et al. 2010). The margay also seems to be more specialized with respect to arboreal capabilities (its morphology is more adapted to movement on trees than those of other sympatric cats) and nocturnal activity, which is borne out by its notoriously enlarged eyes (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). Based on these distinctive morphological, ecological and behavioral features, we hypothesized that margays would have unique genomic signatures relative to ocelots and other Leopardus species. ...
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Article
Ecological differentiation among diverging species is an important component of the evolutionary process and can be investigated in rapid and recent radiations. Here we use whole genome sequences of five species from the genus Leopardus, a recently diversified Neotropical lineage with species bearing distinctive morphological, ecological and behavioral features, to investigate genome-wide diversity, comparative demographic history and signatures of positive selection. Our results show that divergent ecological strategies are reflected in genomic features, e.g. a generalist species shows historically larger effective population size and higher heterozygosity than habitat specialists. The demographic history of these cats seems to have been jointly driven by climate fluctuations and habitat specialization, with different ecological adaptations leading to distinct trajectories. Finally, a gene involved in vertebrate retinal neurogenesis (POU4F2) was found to be under positive selection in the margay, a cat with notoriously large eyes that are likely associated with its nocturnal and arboreal specializations.
... Wild felids are among the most threatened groups of terrestrial mammalian carnivores, with 25 of the 38 known species listed as globally threatened (Macdonald et al. 2010;Sunquist and Sunquist 2017). At least nine species of wild cats occur in mainland Southeast Asia, making it one of the most felid-diverse regions in the world (Burnham et al. 2012;Macdonald et al. 2012). ...
... At least nine species of wild cats occur in mainland Southeast Asia, making it one of the most felid-diverse regions in the world (Burnham et al. 2012;Macdonald et al. 2012). The leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) is the smallest felid (3-5 kg; Francis 2019) in Southeast Asia, and it is a generalist that occupies a broad range of habitats in both protected and non-protected areas (Ross et al. 2015;Sunquist and Sunquist 2017). Leopard cats that occur on Indonesian and Philippine islands recently have been classified as a different species, the Sunda leopard cat (P. ...
... javanensis; Kitchener et al. 2017), although it is similar in size and presumably has a similar ecology to mainland leopard cats. The diet of both species of leopard cats consists mostly of small (< 500 g) mammals, mainly Muridae, but also Sciuridae, and Tupaiidae (Rabinowitz 1990;Grassman 2000;Kamler et al. 2020a), and they occasionally feed on small carnivores (i.e., Mustelidae), lizards, birds, insects, amphibians, and plants (Rajaratnam et al. 2007;Xiong et al. 2016;Sunquist and Sunquist 2017). Because leopard cats have not declined dramatically across their range despite human-caused habitat changes, they are classified as Least Concern by the IUCN (Ross et al. 2015). ...
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Article
The leopard cat ( Prionailurus bengalensis ) is the most common wild felid in Southeast Asia, yet little is known about the factors that affect their population density and occupancy in natural habitats. Although leopard cats are highly adaptable and reportedly can attain high densities in human-modified habitats, it is not clear which natural habitat is optimal for the species. Also, this felid has been preyed upon by large carnivores in Southeast Asia, yet the intra-guild effects of large carnivore presence on leopard cats are almost unknown. To shed light on these fundamental questions, we used data from camera trap surveys for felids to determine the leopard cat densities in three different forest types within Cambodia: continuous evergreen, mosaic dominated by evergreen (hereafter evergreen mosaic), and mosaic dominated by open dry deciduous forests (hereafter DDF mosaic). We also conducted occupancy analyses to evaluate the interactions of the leopard cats with three large carnivores: leopards ( Panthera pardus ), dholes ( Cuon alpinus ), and domestic dogs ( Canis familiaris ). The estimated density (individuals/100 km ² ± SE) was highest in the continuous evergreen (27.83 ± 7.68), followed by evergreen mosaic (22.06 ± 5.35) and DDF mosaic (13.53 ± 3.23). Densities in all three forest types were relatively high compared to previous studies. Domestic dogs were detected on all 3 sites, and leopards and dholes had sufficient records on only one site each. The occupancy probability of leopard cats was not affected by the presence or absence of any large carnivore, indicating that large carnivores and leopard cats occurred independently of each other. Our findings support the claim that leopard cats are habitat generalists, but we show that evergreen forest is the optimum natural habitat for this species in the region. The DDF mosaic appears to sustain lower densities of leopard cats, probably due to the harsh dry season and wildfires that led to reduced prey base, although this generalist felid was still able to occupy DDF in relatively moderate numbers. Overall, the adaptability of leopard cats to various forest types, and lack of negative interaction with large carnivores, helps to explain why this species is the most common and widespread felid in Southeast Asia.
... The genus Lynx includes several medium-sized cat species with Holarctic distribution (Sunquist & Sunquist, 2002;Bellani, 2019). Four modern species are recognized in the genus: Eurasian lynx, Lynx lynx (Linnaeus, 1758); Iberian lynx, Lynx pardinus (Temminck, 1827); Canadian lynx, Lynx canadensis (Kerr, 1792); and bobcat, Lynx rufus (Schreber, 1777). ...
... The first three species are adapted to dense forest in the temperate and subarctic regions (Tumlison, 1987;Heptner, 1992;Sunquist & Sunquist, 2002;Poole, 2003;Bellani, 2019), whereas Lynx rufus is more of a generalist, although preferring a forest environment when available (Lovallo & Anderson, 1996;Sunquist & Sunquist, 2002;Chamberlain et al., 2003). Lynx rufus is different from the other species in both morphology and habitat, whereas the other three species are less well distinguished (Werdelin, 1981;Tumlison, 1987). ...
... The first three species are adapted to dense forest in the temperate and subarctic regions (Tumlison, 1987;Heptner, 1992;Sunquist & Sunquist, 2002;Poole, 2003;Bellani, 2019), whereas Lynx rufus is more of a generalist, although preferring a forest environment when available (Lovallo & Anderson, 1996;Sunquist & Sunquist, 2002;Chamberlain et al., 2003). Lynx rufus is different from the other species in both morphology and habitat, whereas the other three species are less well distinguished (Werdelin, 1981;Tumlison, 1987). ...
Article
A new small-sized lynx from Longdan, Gansu Province, Lynx hei sp. nov., is described in this study. The new species displays the characteristic Lynx generic traits, e.g., distinct buccal grooves in the upper canine, presence of anterior groove in the upper canine, absence of the P2, and moderately developed mastoid process, but it is markedly smaller than the previously described L. issiodorensis specimens from the same site, and is also overall smaller than most living species, comparable to Lynx rufus in size. The new species has a relatively wide and deep zygomatic arch, similar to that of living L. lynx, L. pardinus, L. canadensis but wider than that of L. rufus. Our phylogenetic analyses suggest that L. hei falls within the crown group Lynx, being the sister group to L. rufus, or less probably to be a sister group to L. issiodorensis + three other living species of Lynx. The Plio-Pleistocene L. issiodorensis is supported as the ancestor of L. lynx, L. pardinus and L. canadensis. Our phylogenetic study suggests that Lynx diversification over the Plio-Pleistocene is first achieved by body size differentiation putatively forced by intraspecific competition with other carnivorans, and later followed by morphological divergence.
... The main factors contributing to the decline of the leopard are habitat destruction, prey depletion, human-wildlife conflict (resulting in retaliatory killings), trophy hunting and poaching (Jacobson et al., 2016). The leopard is a generalist apex predator considered the most adaptable among the big cats (Sunquist & Sunquist, 2002). It preys upon a broad range of species and can live in a remarkable array of environments as varied as deserts, savannahs, tropical and temperate forests, highmountain regions and even densely populated urban areas Stein et al., 2020). ...
... Leopards are solitary, territorial animals and males defend an exclusive territory that typically contains the territories of several females. Male HRs differ in size up to two orders of magnitude across bioclimatic regions (Sunquist & Sunquist, 2002;Stein & Hayssen, 2013). The existence of such striking variation makes the leopard a useful model species to identify the fundamental macroecological drivers of felids' HRs at a global scale and across broad environmental gradients. ...
... We conducted this procedure separately for males, females and both sexes combined. Because females are considered an important driver on the space use of male felids (Sunquist & Sunquist, 2002), including the leopard (Bailey, 2005), we incorporated in the male modelling procedure the size of female HRs. Additionally, we also calculated the ratio between male and female HR size per site. ...
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Article
Movement is a fundamental process in animal ecology. For many species, such as large carnivores, movement patterns are greatly shaped by a combination of ecological and anthropogenic factors. Understanding how these factors impact the roaming capacity of large carnivores is essential to forecast risks and design long‐term conservation strategies. The leopard (Panthera pardus) is a generalist predator broadly distributed over varied and different environments, but global leopard populations are declining at a concerning rate and conservation actions are pressing. This scenario makes the leopard a suitable species to understand how global ecological and anthropogenic drivers affect the spatial behaviour of large carnivores and how these should inform conservation efforts. We compiled data from local studies worldwide and used macroecological (climatic, productivity, and human footprint), and intra‐ and interspecific (conspecifics, competitors and prey) predictors to model the roaming requirements of leopards based on home range sizes. Male home range size was largely and positively related to the range sizes of local females and inversely to vegetation productivity. For females, higher seasonal variations in temperature like the observed in arid areas were associated with larger home ranges, while increased human impact resulted in smaller home ranges likely due to concentrated food resources such as domestic species. These predictors are linked to threatening global change processes due to anthropogenic activities that will likely impact the roaming behaviour of leopards in the coming decades with potential consequences for their populations worldwide. Our results provide crucial information towards the development of integrative research linking macroecological and local variables with global change predictions that can inform conservation programmes addressing future risks of degradation, endangerment and human‐leopard conservation conflicts.
... The use of waiting beds can be considered as ambush hunting. The term stalk-and-ambush is sometimes used to describe lynx hunting behaviour (Sunquist and Sunquist;. In a publication about the response of ungulates to olfactory cues of lynxes (Wikenros et al., 2015), lynxes are described as 'ambush predators', however, the publication does not provide descriptions of lynx hunting behaviour. ...
... The term stalk-and-ambush is sometimes used to describe lynx hunting behaviour (e.g. Sunquist and Sunquist, 2002;Vogt et al. 2016a). In a publication about the re-sponse of wild ungulates to olfactory cues of lynxes (Wikenros et al., 2015), lynxes are described as 'ambush predators', but the publication does not provide descriptions of lynx hunting behaviour. ...
... The usage of cover to approach prey during stalking is sometimes also considered as ambush hunting. Therefore, the term stalk-and-ambush is sometimes used to describe lynx hunting behaviour (Sunquist and Sunquist;. Similarly, Vogt et al. (2016a) define the Eurasian lynx as a 'stalk and ambush predator'. ...
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This scientific book gives the results of the long-term studies on the Eurasian lynx Lynx lynx in Belarus, mainly in Naliboki Forest and Paazierre Forest. Population structure, breeding, diet and prey supply as well as the variety of behavioural traits were considered. Among behavioural questions there were investigated sociality, hunting modes, mating and denning behaviour, territorial marking, sheltering and interspecific interference. The monograph presents not only the regional aspects of lynx biology, but also includes many new findings for the Eurasian lynx overall.
... The felid subfamily Pantherinae comprises the genera Panthera and Neofelis, which are found in a variety of habitats and characterized by different kinds of ecology, e.g., hunting and locomotion style as well as habitat (Nowak 1991;Sunquist and Sunquist 2002;Wilson and Mittermeier 2009;Davis et al. 2010;Billet et al. 2012Pfaff et al. 2015Pfaff et al. , 2017Schwab et al. 2019). Extant Panthera species comprise the lion (P. ...
... The longer the secondary bony lamina is, the stiffer the basilar membrane, which is spanned between the secondary and the primary bony laminae (Ekdale 2010). Pantherinae live to some extend in vastly different habitats and hence different evolutionary constraints could lead to different hearing requirements (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002;Wilson and Mittermaier 2009;Ekdale 2010Ekdale , 2013Ekdale , 2016. A larger scale study investigating this aspect should be conducted in the future. ...
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Article
The bony labyrinth (inner ear) of mammals reveals systematic as well as morphofunctional information. However, detailed knowledge of bony labyrinth morphology and ontogeny in Pantherinae, that comprise some of the most iconic mammals, is still pending. Hence, we present the first comparative description of the bony labyrinth in all extant species of Panthera and Neofelis some of which are represented by several postnatal stages; particular focus is set on Panthera leo. Our study is based on µCT scans and virtual 3D reconstructions and accompanied by selected morphometric measurements. Even though quite similar in morphology, both genera as well as their species can be distinguished by several features, e.g., shape and relative size of the semicircular canals and presence or absence of an osseous secondary crus commune. In case of the latter, P. pardus shows some intraspecific variation. We also traced the reduction of the fossa subarcuata during ontogeny in P. leo which conforms with previous studies. Negative allometry of the bony labyrinth in relation to skull basal length can be observed during ontogeny as demonstrated by P. leo as well as between different sized species. Although not correlated with the length of the cochlear canal, the number of cochlear turns is higher in captive non-adult P. leo and P. tigris, but lower in adult captive P. pardus. If these intraspecific differences are related to captivity or represent an ontogenetic pattern, needs to be evaluated in future studies based on larger samples.
... Most carnivores are elusive and solitary species [1], thus monitoring such difficultto-detect species is a challenge to answering ecological questions. The estimation of population parameters of endangered species is crucial to understand their ecology and distribution [2,3], thus appropriate conservation strategies required accurate and trustworthy information [4,5]. ...
... Jaguars (Panthera onca) are the largest felid in the Neotropics [11] and a near-threatened species [12] roughly inhabiting 50% of their original historic range distribution [13]. Though jaguars play a key role in the ecosystem dynamics by balancing ecosystem services and ecological processes [1,14], their local populations are threatened and vulnerable [15]. Therefore, regular evaluations of local jaguar population status are an important part of conservation decision-making. ...
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Article
Regular evaluation of jaguar (Panthera onca) population status is an important part of conservation decision-making. Currently, camera trapping has become the standard method used to estimate jaguar abundance and demographic parameters, though evidence has shown the potential for sex ratio biases and density overestimates. In this study, we used camera trap data combined with satellite telemetry data from one female jaguar to estimate jaguar population density in the dry forest of Santa Rosa National Park in the Guanacaste Conservation Area of northwestern Costa Rica. We analyzed camera trap data collected from June 2016 to June 2017 using spatial capture- recapture methods to estimate jaguar density. In total, 19 individual jaguars were detected (11 males; 8 females) with a resulting estimated population density of 2.6 females (95% [CI] 1.7–4.0) and 5.0 male (95% [CI] 3.4–7.4) per 100 km2. Based on telemetry and camera trap data, camera placement might bias individual detections by sex and thus overall density estimates. We recommend population assessments be made at several consecutive 3-month intervals, that larger areas be covered so as not to restrict surveys to one or two individual home ranges, as in our case, and to carry out long-term camera monitoring programs instead of short-term studies to better understand the local population, using auxiliary telemetry data to adjust field designs and density estimations to improve support for jaguar conservation strategies.
... It is mostly arboreal in nature with great climbing skills. Among the 11 felids found in India it is one of the most rare and illusive ones, with relatively little documentation of its ecology and life history (Sunquist & Sunquist 2002). The marbled cat is forest dependent but also found in degraded forest present over a wide elevation range and in rugged areas in which forest loss is slower than average for the region (Ross et al. 2016). ...
... Our records confirm for the first time the presence of the species from the eastern part of the state. It is one of the least studied and rarest felids in south-east Asia (Sunquist & Sunquist 2002) and perhaps the most confounding (Lyngdoh et al. 2011). Due to extensive forest loss and degradation this cat is threatened across its range (Ross et al. 2016). ...
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Article
The marbled cat Pardofelis marmorata is an elusive cat species in Asia. There is littleinformation available on their ecological status in India. We captured the first photo-graphic evidence of Marbled cat in Murlen National Park, Mizoram.
... It is mostly arboreal in nature with great climbing skills. Among the 11 felids found in India it is one of the most rare and illusive ones, with relatively little documentation of its ecology and life history (Sunquist & Sunquist 2002). The marbled cat is forest dependent but also found in degraded forest present over a wide elevation range and in rugged areas in which forest loss is slower than average for the region (Ross et al. 2016). ...
... Our records confirm for the first time the presence of the species from the eastern part of the state. It is one of the least studied and rarest felids in south-east Asia (Sunquist & Sunquist 2002) and perhaps the most confounding (Lyngdoh et al. 2011). Due to extensive forest loss and degradation this cat is threatened across its range (Ross et al. 2016). ...
Preprint
The marbled cat Pardofelis marmorata is an elusive cat species in Asia. There is little information available on their ecological status in India. We captured the first photographic evidence of Marbled cat in Murlen National Park, Mizoram.
... Their presence in rural landscapes is also confirmed by the presence of house rats (Rattus rattus) in their diets (Skinner and Chimimba 2005). Rodents and lagomorphs are the staple of the Afro-Asiatic wildcat's diet across its range, with birds of secondary importance, although a variety of small prey is taken, and wildcats also scavenge (Nowell and Jackson 1996, Sunquist and Sunquist 2002, Herbst and Mills 2010. The stomach of an Afro-Asiatic wildcat from Oman, contained Coleoptera, Orthoptera, lizards, mammal fur, and a date stone (Harrison and Bates 1991). ...
... For example, the expansion of cotton plantations and gas fields in China or development of so called 'wasteland habitats' in India (Sharma 1998) have reduced their suitable habitat. However, wildcats persist in cultivated landscapes with increased rodent population densities (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002), although these are the areas where hybridization with domestic cats occurs and spreads. Moreover, free-ranging dogs kill wildcats and may increase their mortality rate, especially along protected area boundaries where they occur in significant numbers (TAWIRI 2009). ...
... Para poner a prueba esta conjetura (o hipótesis), se utiliza como ejemplo tres especies de mamíferos que están ampliamente distribuidas en el Neotrópico y para las cuales se dispone de una gran cantidad de datos de alta calidad de distintas fuentes (por ejemplo, registros históricos y datos de cámaras trampa) para localidades con diferentes niveles de idoneidad climática: tigrillo (Leopardus wiedii), tepezcuintle (Cuniculus paca), y armadillo de nueve bandas (Dasypus novemcinctus). El tigrillo, Leopardus wiedii (Schinz, 1821), es un mamífero catalogado como Casi Amenazado por la IUCN [33] que se extiende desde el norte de México hasta el norte de Argentina [32,43], y su presencia está fuertemente asociada con bosques (especialmente bosques tropicales) a la luz de sus hábitos arbóreos [116,32,169,170,76,127,91,43]. El tepezcuintle (Cuniculus paca) es uno de los roedores más grandes del mundo y está catalogado por la UICN como de Menor Preocupación [129,41], se encuentra en una amplia gama de tipos de bosques en áreas húmedas junto con distribución desde el sur de México hasta la región de las Pampas de Brasil y Uruguay [129,7,59,84]. ...
... Estas preferencias ambientales en común pueden llevar a la co-presencia de las especies y manifestar patrones de correlación positivos, consecuencia de restricciones geográficas, historia evolutiva y preferencias climáticas compartidas, entre muchos otros factores [138]. Cabe destacar que en el ENM del tigrillo seleccionado para este análisis, la variable que más contribuyó al mismo fue la cobertura arbórea; esto podría deberse que esta es una especie asociada a ambientes forestales y, con claras adaptaciones anatómicas a la vida arbórea, dado que la mayor parte de sus presas consisten en mamíferos arborícolas como son roedores y marsupiales, así como aves [31,169,10,170,33]. Este efecto de la idoneidad ambiental predominó sobre el efecto negativo que las especies de grandes depredadoras podrían tener sobre la distribución y uso del hábitat del tigrillo, conforme a los dominios de la escala de Pearson y Dawson [128], a escalas gruesas factores como el clima y el uso de suelo pueden considerarse factores dominantes frente a las interacciones bióticas, por otro lado si las interacciones son inferidas a través asociaciones espaciales a lo largo de un gradiente ambiental (como en este caso), la variación en la probabilidad de presencia para las especies podría generar falsos positivos, llevando al investigador a conclusiones espurias acerca del fenómeno observado [12]. ...
Thesis
The main interest of this dissertation is to study the relationship between habitat use and the environmental space (the ecological niche), measured in terms of the probability of site occupancy and climatic suitability, respectively, to advance the understanding of the distribution of animal species. First, I made a review of the concepts related to occupancy and the ecological niche, where according to Soberón the fundamental Grinnellian niche is defined as the set of environmental (climatic) conditions where the intrinsic growth rate is positive, on the other hand, habitat use is defined as the area occupied by a species, this is measured through occupancy models (Chapters 1 and 2). Given that the position in the niche space is related to the intrinsic growth rate and the habitat use with occupancy, both suitability and occupancy have been considered as indirect measures of abundance, this thesis is based on the conjecture that greater climatic suitability will imply a greater probability of habitat use. In Chapter 3 I modeled both habitat use and Grinnellian niche for three neotropical mammal species with so-called occupancy and niche models. Habitat use is estimated by the basic occupancy model (single-season, single species) with covariates, where field data were collected through biological sampling with camera traps in the region known as La Chinantla in Oaxaca, Mexico, as well as data from the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring Network (TEAM Network) at five different sites throughout the Neotropics located in four countries: Costa Rica, Peru, Brazil, and Suriname. Habitat suitability values and occupancy probability were correlated for the margay (Leopardus wiedii), spotted paca (Cuniculus paca), and nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus). The results indicate that the Ecological Niche Models are significantly correlated with the Occupancy Models. It should be noted that this relationship is variable throughout the different species and geographic areas analyzed, so we consider that local factors influence this relationship, for this purpose in Chapter 4 I evaluated if the presence of large predators affected the relationship between use of habitat and suitability in Leopardus wiedii, to do this, the three hypercarnivores that perform the greatest predation on other carnivorous mammals species throughout the Neotropics were selected: ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), puma (Puma concolor) and jaguar (Panthera onca). The results of the thesis are discussed in terms of ecological niche theory and hierarchical resource selection.
... Males are on average significantly heavier, longer, and taller than females and they have significantly longer tails, larger neck circumferences, longer and wider front paws, longer hindfeet, and longer canines than females. Even if we caught more males than females and the sample sizes are skewed (6 females vs. 15 males), the differences in sizes we observed between sexes in sand cats are similar to those described in other felid species (for review: Sunquist and Sunquist 2002; in Eurasian lynx: Bufka and Červený 2019). The only measurement where no statistical difference was observed between males and females was ear length, which is interesting given that the species' conspicuous larger external ears in comparison with most other felid species. ...
... The only measurement where no statistical difference was observed between males and females was ear length, which is interesting given that the species' conspicuous larger external ears in comparison with most other felid species. This non-significance could be explained by our smaller female sample size but also two other hypotheses: In felids, hearing is a sense of primary importance in prey capture and danger detection, and long ear pinnae are enhancing the directionality of this sense (for review: Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). Hence, the lack of sexual dimorphism observed in ear length in sand cats could be explained because the ability to hunt and to detect their predators is of equally importance for both sexes. ...
Article
During a telemetry study, body weights and body measurements of African sand cats Felis margarita margarita were recorded in the southern provinces of Morocco between December 2015 and December 2019. In total, 41 individuals (30 males and 11 females) were captured, weighed, and the body measurements of the specimens selected for radio-collaring were recorded, with a few individuals measured in different seasons. Captured males showed higher values in all parameters measured in winter. Males weighed significantly more than females, respectively 2.16 ± 0.36 kg (N=29) and 1.70 kg ± 0.21 (N=11), and, except for ear length, which did not significantly differ between sexes, we found significant differences between males and females for every other body measurement recorded: Males have significantly longer head-and-body length, tail, neck circumference, elbow-toe-tip length, shoulder length, canines, longer and wider front paws, and longer hindfoot length than females. Differences in body weight and measurements between adult and subadult males and females are also discussed. From three recaptured individuals, we found that winter weight was on average 14% heavier than summer weight.
... The puma (Puma concolor) is the most widely distributed large felid in the Americas, where it exists in various habitats from sea level up to 5800 m (Redford and Eisenberg, 1992). As an opportunistic and generalist predator, it preys on a wide variety of species throughout its geographical distribution (Iriarte et al., 1990;Sunquist and Sunquist, 2002). ...
... This suggests that the puma may display generalist feeding behavior in the RNSAB. However, the confidence intervals of the trophic niche show the trophic flexibility of this predator, displaying opportunistic behavior that may be related to fluctuations in the relative abundances of its prey (Sunquist and Sunquist, 2002). ...
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Article
The puma (Puma concolor) is widely distributed in the alpine highlands of the Andes, but its diet has rarely been described in ecosystems above 4300 m. We collected and examined 21 puma scats from the Salinas y Aguada Blanca National Reserve (RNSAB) between 2013 and 2015. We identified 10 species of prey, in addition to unidentified birds and small rodents. Small and medium animals were the most frequent prey, although wild camelids contributed the greatest proportion of biomass. We also recorded the presence of mesopredators and domestic dogs in puma scats. Our results suggest that the puma could play a key role in the configuration of trophic networks in the RNSAB, and that this can contribute considerably to the ecosystem balance.
... The outcome of aggressive interactions at a kill multi-predator systems, prey may exhibit conflicting anti-predator responses such that the response to one predator increases the risk of predation by another predator, illustrating a case of predator facilitation (Kotler et al., 1992;. Whereas hyaenas are cursorial predators that are mostly efficient in open habitats, lions and leopards are ambush predators, which rely on dense vegetation to launch successfully their attack by surprise (Sunquist & Sunquist, 2002). African herbivores tend to use open habitats when lions are nearby (Valeix et al., 2009b. ...
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Thesis
Large carnivores’ coexistence is common, the aim of that thesis is to understand how it affects predator prey interactions. First part of the thesis is about predator’s Non-Consumptive Effects (NCE hereafter) on prey. Predation risk induce costly behavioural modification for prey, that have an impact on prey population dynamics. For invertebrates these NCE can account for 85% of the total effect of predation. The first chapter is a literature review about NCE for large terrestrial mammals, it highlighted the fact studying NCE requires long term data collection, that reactive (i.e. immediate risk assessment) antipredator response have been less studied that proactive response (long term risk assessment) and that knowledge on NCE mostly come from studies taking only one predator species into account while 90% of the studies took place where several coexist. Hence, second and third chapters focus on reactive response of prey to predators with different hunting mode in order to test the hypothesis that ambush predators (that take prey by surprise) induce higher NCE than cursorial ones (chase down prey), as it has been demonstrated for invertebrates’ species. The second chapter investigate plain zebras (Equus quagga) spatial reactive response to encounters with spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta) a cursorial predator and African lion (Panthera leo) an ambush one, with data from GPS collars that were simultaneously deployed on the three species. zebras were twice as likely to leave and they left faster and further away after a lion’s encounter than a hyaena’s one. The third chapter was an experiment to evaluate the immediate behavioural response of the roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) to the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) an ambush predator and the grey wolf (Canis lupus) a cursorial one. Predation risk was simulated at night with playbacks and prey’s response was filmed. Roe deer were more likely to leave the experiment site if lynx vocalises were broadcasted. Results from both chapters support the hypothesis that ambush predator induce higher antipredator response than cursorial one. Because predator not only differ by their hunting mode (body size, sociality) and that both chapters only considered one pair of predator at a time, more studies are needed in order to draw general conclusions as it has been done for invertebrates’ species. Sympatric large carnivores are linked within a web of diverse interactions (negative and positive), in a second part of the thesis with fourth chapter we evaluated spatio-temporal co-occurency patterns at different scales, of three sympatric large carnivores: the spotted hyaena, the lion and the leopard (Panthera pardus), using camera trap data. The three species had overlapping diel activity patterns. Lions and hyaenas had overlapping general spatial distribution, it was also the case for hyaenas and leopards but it was not for lion and leopards. Hyaenas tended to follow lions, and lions tended to follow hyaenas. Hyaenas tended to follow leopards while leopards tended to avoid hyaenas. I discussed the patterns of spatio-temporal avoidance/attraction in terms of potential underlying mechanisms (direct interactions between them, but also indirect competition or facilitation through prey behaviours). Finally, multipredator context allows to increase the complexity of the system studied and to have a better understanding of interspecific interactions within natural ecosystems (Appendice 1). These results pave the way for future investigations as the rapid changes large carnivores and herbivores are facing may lead them to interact even more in the future.
... Due to the fragmentary nature of the specimen, it is ill-advised to identify PUPC 17-264 beyond Machairodontinae. The size suggests a small animal, perhaps one-half to two-thirds the size of a modern adult Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx; see Sunquist and Sunquist (2002) for modern felid body sizes). ...
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Article
Recently collected carnivoran specimens from the Siwalik Group of Pakistan are described and discussed. These specimens add to our knowledge of the previously known taxa while also adding to our biogeo-graphic, stratigraphic, and temporal knowledge of the carnivorans from the Siwaliks. At least eight distinct taxa are identified, and although most specimens are fragmentary, some hyaenid specimens are identified further (e.g. Lycyaena and Ictitherium). We identify and describe the first herpestid fossils from the Chinji Formation, the first hyaenid (Lycyaena cf. L. dubia) from the Tatrot Formation, and the first definitive occurrence of Ictitherium (Ictitherium cf. I. viverrinum) from the Dhok Pathan Formation. We report the first occurrences of several taxa from various sites in the Siwaliks of Pakistan, including the first reports of any carnivorans from Dhok Milan, Kohtehra, and Lawa. Individual sites show a wide range of carnivoran biodiversity, however larger scale trends are more discernible when comparing those between formations in the Siwaliks. Several taxa disappear over time from the carnivoran fauna of the Siwaliks, starting with barbourofelines, and continuing with amphicyonids (and non-carnivoran hyaenodontids). Felids and mus-telids are the most diverse carnivorans in the Siwaliks, while caniforms become more prevalent through time. ARTICLE HISTORY
... The domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus) is one of the most popular pet species. The Felidae family includes 40-71 recognized domestic cat breeds distributed throughout the world [3][4][5] , with considerable variation in coat, behavioral, and morphological phenotypes 6 . The spectacular phenotypic diversity of most domestic cat breeds is thought to have arisen recently, within the past 150 years, largely through intensive artificial selection for aesthetic rather than functional traits 7 . ...
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Article
Stray non-breeding cats (stray) represent the largest heterogeneous cat population subject to natural selection, while populations of the Siamese (SIAM) and Oriental Shorthair (OSH) breeds developed through intensive artificial selection for aesthetic traits. Runs of homozygosity (ROH) and demographic measures are useful tools to discover chromosomal regions of recent selection and to characterize genetic diversity in domestic cat populations. To achieve this, we genotyped 150 stray and 26 household non-breeding cats (household) on the Illumina feline 63 K SNP BeadChip and compared them to SIAM and OSH. The 50% decay value of squared correlation coefficients (r2) in stray (0.23), household (0.25), OSH (0.24) and SIAM (0.25) corresponded to a mean marker distance of 1.12 Kb, 4.55 Kb, 62.50 Kb and 175.07 Kb, respectively. The effective population size (Ne) decreased in the current generation to 55 in stray, 11 in household, 9 in OSH and 7 in SIAM. In the recent generation, the increase in inbreeding per generation (ΔF) reached its maximum values of 0.0090, 0.0443, 0.0561 and 0.0710 in stray, household, OSH and SIAM, respectively. The genomic inbreeding coefficient (FROH) based on ROH was calculated for three length categories. The FROH was between 0.014 (FROH60) and 0.020 (FROH5) for stray, between 0.018 (FROH60) and 0.024 (FROH5) for household, between 0.048 (FROH60) and 0.069 (FROH5) for OSH and between 0.053 (FROH60) and 0.073 (FROH5) for SIAM. We identified nine unique selective regions for stray through genome-wide analyses for regions with reduced heterozygosity based on FST statistics. Genes in these regions have previously been associated with reproduction (BUB1B), motor/neurological behavior (GPHN, GABRB3), cold-induced thermogenesis (DIO2, TSHR), immune system development (TSHR), viral carcinogenesis (GTF2A1), host immune response against bacteria, viruses, chemoattractant and cancer cells (PLCB2, BAHD1, TIGAR), and lifespan and aging (BUB1B, FGF23). In addition, we identified twelve unique selective regions for OSH containing candidate genes for a wide range of coat colors and patterns (ADAMTS20, KITLG, TYR, TYRO3—a MITF regulator, GPNMB, FGF7, RAB38) as well as congenital heart defects (PDE4D, PKP2) and gastrointestinal disorders (NLGN1, ALDH1B1). Genes in stray that represent unique selective events indicate, at least in part, natural selection for environmental adaptation and resistance to infectious disease, and should be the subject of future research. Stray cats represent an important genetic resource and have the potential to become a research model for disease resistance and longevity, which is why we recommend preserving semen before neutering.
... Further, a majority species in Himalayan landscapes showed the low regional-scale population genetic structuring and revealed mixed ancestry, indicating species movement and gene flow among the adjoining areas. However, the lack of population genetic structure in species like Snow leopard, common leopard and Himalayan brown bear is possibly due to their long-ranging behaviour (Janecka et al., 2017;Seryodkin et al., 2017;Sunquist and Sunquist, 2002). Thus, mountainous landscape need to be protected and monitored intensively to retain contiguous habitats to support gene flow for species persistence. ...
Article
Large forested landscapes often harbour significant amount of biodiversity and support human society by rendering various livelihood opportunities and ecosystem services. Their periodic assessment for health and ecological integrity is essential for timely mitigation of any negative impact of human use due to over harvesting of natural resources or unsustainable developmental activities. In this context, monitoring of mega fauna may provide reasonable insights about the connectivity and quality of forested habitats. In the present study, we conducted a large non-invasive genetic survey to explore mammalian diversity and genetically characterise 13 mammals from the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR). We analyzed 4806 faecal samples using 103 autosomal microsatellite loci and with three mitochondrial genes and identified 37 species of mammal. We observed low to moderate level of genetic variability and most species exhibited stable demographic histories. We estimated an unbiased population genetic account (PGAunbias) for 13 species that may monitored after a fixed time interval to understand species performance in response to the landscape changes. The present study has been evident to show pragmatic permeability with the representative sampling in the IHR in order to facilitate the development of species-oriented conservation and management programmes.
... Currently, the species is included in the "Schedule-I" category (highest protection) by Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and the "Near Threatened" category by Conservation Assessment and Management Plan (CAMP) and IUCN Red list assessment in India (Molur et al. 1998;Wilson and Reeder 2005). Historically in India, the species had been extensively captured and trained for the purpose of game hunting by Indian Royalty (Divyabhanusinh 1993;Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). Earlier research focused on ecological aspects of species, like home range, diet, and prey base status (Grobler 1981;Avenant and Nel 1998;van Heezik and Seddon 1998;Mukherjee et al. 2004;Farhadinia et al. 2007;Albayrak et al. 2012), however authentic information on its distribution and population is largely missing from the literature. ...
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Article
Background: Large-scale hunting and various anthropogenic pressures in the recent past have pushed the Asiatic caracal (Caracal caracal schmitzi), an elusive medium-sized and locally threatened felid species towards local extinction in India. Though widely distributed historically, it has been sparsely reported from several regions of central and northern states in India till twentieth century. Later, the species distribution became confined only to the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, which have had reported sightings in the twenty-first century. In order to highlight the potentially suitable habitats for Asiatic caracals in India, we targeted forth-filtering of the spatial model ensemble by creating and utilizing the validated and spatially thinned species presence information (n = 69) and related ecological variables (aridity, NDVI, precipitation seasonality, temperature seasonality, terrain ruggedness), filtered with anthropological variable (nightlight). Results: Out of eight spatial prediction models, the two most parsimonious models, Random Forest (AUC 0.91) and MaxEnt (AUC 0.89) were weighted and ensembled. The ensemble model indicated several clustered habitats, covering 1207.83 km2 areas in Kachchh (Gujarat), Aravalli mountains (Rajasthan), Malwa plateau (Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh), and Bundelkhand region (Madhya Pradesh) as potentially suitable habitats for caracals. Output probabilities of pixels were further regressed with converted vegetation height data within selected highly potential habitats, i.e., Ranthambore Kuno Landscape (RKL) (suitability ~ 0.44 + 0.03(vegetation height) **, R2 = 0.27). The regression model inferred a significant positive relation between vegetation height and habitat suitability, hence the lowest ordinal class out of three classes of converted vegetation height was masked out from the RKL, which yielded in an area of 567 km2 as potentially highly suitable habitats for caracals, which can be further proposed as survey areas and conservation priority areas for caracals. Conclusion: The study charts out the small pockets of landscape in and around dryland protected areas, suitable for caracal in the Indian context, which need attention for landscape conservation.
... Carcass pathway case study: The ecological importance of puma-killed carcasses Pumas (Puma concolor ) are apex predators with the widest geographic range of any terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere (Sunquist & Sunquist 2002). They play numerous roles within ecosystems, including regulating prey density, affecting prey behavior through fear, and generating carrion (LaBarge et al. 2022). ...
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Preprint
Predators are widely recognized for their irreplaceable roles in regulating the abundance and altering the traits of lower trophic levels. Yet, predators also have irreplaceable roles in shaping community interactions and ecological processes in highly localized pathways, irrespective of their influence on prey density or behavior. We introduce a conceptual framework, patchy indirect effects , that outlines how predators indirectly affect other organisms via landscape patches. We focus on three main pathways and provide examples and detailed case studies herein: generating and distributing prey carcasses, creating biogeochemical hotspots by concentrating nutrients derived from prey, and killing ecosystem engineers that create patches. In each pathway, indirect effects of predation are localized within discrete areas with measurable spatial and temporal boundaries. Whereas density- and trait-mediated indirect effects function via population-scale changes, the patchy indirect effects concept outlines how predators drive landscape heterogeneity and influence ecosystem dynamics – including scavenger interactions, nutrient cycling, parasite/disease transmission risk, and local biodiversity – through pathways that function at individual- and patch-level scales. Our synthesis provides a more holistic view of the functional role of predation in ecosystems by addressing how predators create patchy landscapes via localized pathways, in addition to influencing the abundance and behavior of lower trophic levels.
... Availability of a sufficient prey base of large ungulates is the Tiger's primary habitat requirement: "wild pigs and deer of various species are the two prey types that make up the bulk of the Tiger's diet, and in general Tigers require a good population of these species to survive and reproduce" (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). Tigers need to kill 50-60 large prey animals per year (Karanth et al. 2004, Hayward et al. 2012, Miller et al. 2013). ...
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Article
Tiger Panthera tigris has most recently been assessed for The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 2021. Panthera tigris is listed as Endangered under criteria A2abcd.
... Clouded leopard is a medium�sized weighing around 11.5-18 kg (Austin & Tewes 1999, Grassman et al. 2016, elusive, semi�ar�ore� al, forest dwelling felid (Sunquist & Sunquist 2002), classified as Vulnera�le �y the IUCN (Grassman et al. 2016) and currently placed on CITES as an Appendix I Species. In India, it enjoys protection as Schedule I species un� der the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. ...
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Article
Clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa is an elusive, semi-arboreal, forest dwelling felid, classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources IUCN and currently placed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora CITES as an Appendix I Species. In India, it is protected as Schedule I species under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. This note presents the first record of clouded leopard in Valmiki Tiger Reserve in Bihar, situated in eastern most part of Terai Arc Landscape, India.
... They therefore live a solitary lifestyle, very similar to that of the European wildcat (Felis s. silvestris Schreber, 1777) [11]. ...
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Article
The free-ranging unowned domestic cat (unowned—not under human control with respect to movement and sexual behaviour), living in the Anthropocene, can live a strictly solitary life or in socially structured groups, depending on environmental conditions. This paper explores the evidence for evolution of new traits (behavioural, morphological, physiological, immunological) in domestic cats, to adapt to the variety of ecosystems they now successfully inhabit. While the domestic cat ancestor lived a strictly solitary life, unowned free-ranging cats today may live in multi-male/multi-female colonies in urban city centres, where they are dependent on food provided by people. Urban free-ranging cats are now more social, which has been reflected in different breeding patterns, lower infanticide, more frequent affiliative interactions in general, and different spatial groupings. This means there is a potential for domestic cat behaviour to be ‘misunderstood’. Recognising that negative impacts of free-ranging domestic cats in urban fringe areas must be mitigated, we discuss how understanding behavioural plasticity and other recently evolved traits of domestic cats may lead to management strategies that maximise health and welfare of cats, wildlife, and humans.
... They therefore live a solitary lifestyle, very similar to that of the European wildcat (Felis s. silvestris Schreber, 1777) [11]. ...
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Article
Welfare and management decisions for unowned free-ranging cats in urban environments should no longer be based on knowledge about behavioural ecology of solitary cats living and breeding in more natural ‘wild’ environments. We provide evidence that urban free-ranging domestic cats in the Anthropocene have responded to rapidly changing environments, such as abundance of food and higher population densities of conspecifics by adapting their behaviour (behavioural plasticity—the ability of a genotype (individual) to express different behaviours according to its environment) and social organisation to living in complex social groups, especially those living in colonies. Urban free-ranging cats are now more social, as demonstrated by different breeding patterns, lower infanticide, more frequent affiliative interactions in general, and different spatial groupings. We argue that this knowledge should be disseminated widely, and inform future research and strategies used to manage free-ranging cats across environments. Understanding behavioural plasticity and other recently evolved traits of domestic cats may lead to management strategies that maximise health and welfare of cats, wildlife, and humans—otherwise domestic cat behaviour may be ‘misunderstood’. Importantly, interdisciplinary research using expertise from biological and social sciences, and engaging human communities, should evaluate these management strategies to ensure they maintain optimal welfare of free-ranging domestic cats while preserving biodiversity and protecting wildcats.
... Record whether the trachea is intact, being careful not to puncture it while skinning the carcass; canids may bite prey multiple times on the face, neck, skull, hind legs, and other parts of the body (Bowns, 1995;Mech, 1970 Sunquist & Sunquist, 2002), and it is sometimes possible to see the four punctures corresponding to the four canines. Felids also sometimes kill adult large ungulates by enclosing the muzzle of the prey in their mouth and subsequent suffocation (Kitchener et al., 2010;Leyhausen & Tonkin, 1979). ...
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Article
Mortality site investigations of telemetered wildlife are important for cause‐specific survival analyses and understanding underlying causes of observed population dynamics. Yet, eroding ecoliteracy and a lack of quality control in data collection can lead researchers to make incorrect conclusions, which may negatively impact management decisions for wildlife populations. We reviewed a random sample of 50 peer‐reviewed studies published between 2000 and 2019 on survival and cause‐specific mortality of ungulates monitored with telemetry devices. This concise review revealed extensive variation in reporting of field procedures, with many studies omitting critical information for the cause of mortality inference. Field protocols used to investigate mortality sites and ascertain the cause of mortality are often minimally described and frequently fail to address how investigators dealt with uncertainty. We outline a step‐by‐step procedure for mortality site investigations of telemetered ungulates, including evidence that should be documented in the field. Specifically, we highlight data that can be useful to differentiate predation from scavenging and more conclusively identify the predator species that killed the ungulate. We also outline how uncertainty in identifying the cause of mortality could be acknowledged and reported. We demonstrate the importance of rigorous protocols and prompt site investigations using data from our 5‐year study on survival and cause‐specific mortality of telemetered mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) in northern California. Over the course of our study, we visited mortality sites of neonates (n = 91) and adults (n = 23) to ascertain the cause of mortality. Rapid site visitations significantly improved the successful identification of the cause of mortality and confidence levels for neonates. We discuss the need for rigorous and standardized protocols that include measures of confidence for mortality site investigations. We invite reviewers and journal editors to encourage authors to provide supportive information associated with the identification of causes of mortality, including uncertainty.
... Tigers are usually nocturnal species to avoid anthropogenic disruptions, however, they are active during daytime when the area is void of disturbances (Sunquist & Sunquist, 2002). They are skilled hunters and the attack style differs according to the prey size (Nowell & Jackson, 1996). ...
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Technical Report
Technical Report on Tiger Camera Trapping In JDNP
... The clade is thought to have evolved approximately 5 million years ago [1,2] and its members are some of the most widespread and successful carnivores on the planet. However, over the last 100 years, all members of this clade have suffered widespread and severe declines, primarily due to anthropogenic causes [3]. As top terrestrial predators, members of the Panthera clade have naturally low abundances and slower intrinsic rates of population growth compared to prey species, forcing many populations into 'threatened' or 'endangered' listings by the IUCN and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), with severe ecological implications globally. ...
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Preprint
The big cats (genus Panthera ) represent some of the most popular and charismatic species on the planet. Although some reference genomes are available for this clade, few are at the chromosome level, inhibiting high-resolution genomic studies. Here, we assemble genomes from three members of the genus, the tiger ( Panthera tigris ), the snow leopard ( Panthera uncia ), and the African leopard ( Panthera pardus pardus ), at chromosome or near-chromosome level. We used a combination of short- and long-read technologies, as well as proximity ligation data from Hi-C technology, to achieve high continuity and contiguity for each individual. We hope these genomes will aid in further evolutionary and conservation research of this iconic group of mammals.
... The genus Lynx diverged from the lineage of Asian cats in the genera Catopuma and Pardofelis between 8 and 10 Mya . There are four extant Lynx species, the bobcat (Lynx rufus) and the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) in North America, and the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) and the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) in Eurasia (Sunquist and Sunquist, 2002). The Eurasian lynx has a vast distribution area, ranging from Korea to France, where it has been reintroduced recently (Breitenmoser et al., 2015). ...
Article
The Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) is one of the most widely distributed felids in the world. However, most of its populations started to decline a few millennia ago. Historical declines have been especially severe in Europe, and particularly in Western Europe, from where the species disappeared in the last few centuries. Here, we analyze the genome of an Eurasian lynx inhabiting the Iberian Peninsula 2500 ya, to gain insights into the phylogeographic position and genetic status of this extinct population. Also, we contextualize previous ancient data in the light of new phylogeographic studies of the species. Our results suggest that the Iberian population is part of an extinct European lineage closely related to the current Carpathian-Baltic lineages. Also, this sample holds the lowest diversity reported for the species so far, and similar to that of the highly endangered Iberian lynx. A combination of historical factors, such as a founder effect while colonizing the peninsula, together with intensified human impacts during the Holocene in the Cantabrian strip, could have led to a genetic impoverishment of the population and precipitated its extinction. Mitogenomic lineages distribution in space and time support the long-term coexistence of several lineages of Eurasian lynx in Western Europe with fluctuating ranges. While mitochondrial sequences related to the lineages currently found in Balkans and Caucasus were predominant during the Pleistocene, those more closely related to the lineage currently distributed in Central Europe prevailed during the Holocene. The use of ancient genomics has proven to be a useful tool to understand the biogeographic pattern of the Eurasian lynx in the past.
... The vegetation on the sighting site is open shrub-steppe landscape, associated with sclerophyllous shrubs such as litre (Lithraea caustica), molle (Schinus latifolius) and quillay (Quillaja saponaria; Flores et al. 2011). Both felids recorded had the common characteristics of the species: long hairs on the body, an erectile spinal crest slightly darker than ground colour, transverse dark stripes on the throat, markings on the flanks, legs with transverse dark stripes in the proximal portion, ears more pointed and tail relatively shorter than other South American felids (Eisenberg and Redford 1999;Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). ...
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Article
The kodkod, Leopardus guigna tigrillo and the Pampas cat, Leopardus colocola are two of the most elusive and cryptic species of wild cats in the Neotropical region. The few existing studies for both species suggested that their distribution is restricted almost entirely to large areas of native forest. Both species are classified within some category of extinction risk. As part of the citizen science projects, new records were obtained from the kodkod and the pampas cat in the central zone of Chile. In addition, to corroborate these records, previous records of both species were consulted in the available literature and databases. The site where the kodkod was sighted is an urban and beach area, with small strips of scrub, secondary native forest and forest plantations. The records of the Pampas cat were presented on roads, putting his integrity at risk. The records of both species were presented in sites with threats, where it is possible that due to the fragmentation of their habitats, they are forced to move to look for food resources where they did not before. Likewise, we highlight the importance of the vegetation fragments as biological corridors for these and other species that require large areas of continuous habitat, which is why it is necessary to prioritize the conservation of these sites in the region. It is essential to carry out more research in the region to know both species threats and population density.
... The jungle cat (Felis chaus) is among the most common cat species found in South Asia and is widespread across the Indian subcontinent. Although a generalist, the species is strongly associated with habitats that include water and dense vegetation cover, including dry deciduous forests (Sunquist & Sunquist, 2002). The jungle cat has a continuous distribution with high population size and low genetic differentiation, and therefore is an ideal system to test the increased power offered by the use of genome-wide SNPs in identifying landscape impacts on connectivity (Mukherjee et al., 2010;Thatte et al., 2020). ...
Article
Maintaining gene flow among fragmented habitat patches is critical for the long‐term persistence of wild species. Landscape genetics tools are often used to understand the impact of landscape features on gene flow among fragmented populations. The ability to detect the relationship between gene flow and landscape depends on the power of the genetic tools used, which increases with the number of genotyped loci. Next‐generation sequencing (NGS) based methods allow genotyping of a high number of loci but are challenging to implement for non‐invasive samples, which are commonly used in conservation genetics research. Here we assess the impact of landscape heterogeneity on jungle cat (Felis chaus) movement using genome‐wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers obtained from fecal samples, using a methylation‐based DNA (MBD) enrichment method. We successfully genotyped 20 jungle cat individuals at 2246 SNP loci and compared our results to a previous study that used microsatellite markers and 93 individuals. Our results demonstrate the efficiency and robustness of the MBD enrichment approach with fecal samples in generating genome‐wide data for endangered and cryptic species of conservation concern. Our landscape analyses revealed that roads and human‐dominated land‐use negatively impact jungle cat movement in central India. We explicitly quantified the uncertainty in our analyses and concluded that several thousand SNPs from fewer individuals provide more power than tens of microsatellites from more individuals, in quantifying the effects of landscape on gene flow. Our results provide insight into the impacts of anthropogenic habitat modification on an often‐ignored small carnivore species. Insights on connectivity for such species can help policymakers and wildlife managers move beyond connectivity contingent on charismatic species to devise holistic landscape‐level management plans for multiple carnivores. Maintaining gene‐flow among fragmented habitat patches is crucial for the long‐term persistence of wild species. We investigated the genetic connectivity of Jungle cat (Felis chaus) in central India. We highlight the use and robustness of the methylation‐based enrichment method to generate genome‐wide data using Next Generation Sequencing from non‐invasive fecal samples. Our results suggest that jungle cats in central India exhibit low genetic differentiation. High traffic roads and anthropogenic disturbance including land‐use change impact animal movement. Our approach could be applied to a broad range of species of conservation concern, and can be used for devising holistic management and conservation plans.
... The jaguar Panthera onca is now a New tropical endemic large felid predator (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002), preferring a close forest environment with a large body of water (Quigley et al. 2017). During the historical time, the jaguar has a much wider distribution in the New World, ranging from Florida (Kurtén 1965;Hulbert 2001) to the Great Plain (Schultz et al. 1985) in the U.S.A. ...
Article
The fossil record of jaguar lineage (or jaguar-like animal), i.e., Panthera gombaszogensis and Panthera onca, is one of the best and complete among the mammals, making it one of the best-known living species with knowledge of origin, dispersal, and morphological evolution. However, a large gap is present in eastern Asia, which is the gateway for jaguar migration from the Old World to the New World. Here we report a nearly complete mandible from the Middle Pleistocene deposits of Jinyuan Cave, Luotuo Hill of Jinpu New District, Dalian, Liaoning Province of northeastern China. The mandibular morphology fits that of the jaguar, and the dental traits are closest to P. gombaszogensis and Irvingtonian P. onca, but shows robust premolars and represents a new subspecies P. g. jinpuensis. The new find fills the geographic gap for jaguar linage, and supports a northern dispersal routine from western Asia-central Asia-northeastern China to North America, whereas the southern China Early Pleistocene seems to be occupied by a similar sized but taxonomically different pantherine cat
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Whether prey species avoid predators and predator species track prey is a poorly understood aspect of predator–prey interactions, given measuring prey tracking by predators and predator avoidance by prey is challenging. A common approach to study these interactions among mammals in field situations is to monitor the spatial proximity of animals at fixed times, using GPS tags fitted to individuals. However, this method is invasive and only allows tracking of a subset of individuals. Here, we use an alternative, noninvasive camera-trapping approach to monitor temporal proximity of predator and prey animals. We deployed camera traps at fixed locations on Barro Colorado Island, Panama, where the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) is the principal mammalian predator, and tested two hypotheses: (1) prey animals avoid ocelots; and (2) ocelots track prey. We quantified temporal proximity of predators and prey by fitting parametric survival models to the time intervals between subsequent prey and predator captures by camera traps, and then compared the observed intervals to random permutations that retained the spatiotemporal distribution of animal activity. We found that time until a prey animal appeared at a location was significantly longer than expected by chance if an ocelot had passed, and that the time until an ocelot appeared at a location was significantly shorter than expected by chance after prey passage. These findings are indirect evidence for both predator avoidance and prey tracking in this system. Our results show that predator avoidance and prey tracking influence predator and prey distribution over time in a field setting. Moreover, this study demonstrates that camera trapping is a viable and noninvasive alternative to GPS tracking for studying certain predator–prey interactions.
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Tiger subspecific taxonomy is controversial because of morphological and genetic variation found between now fragmented populations, yet the extent to which phenotypic plasticity or genetic variation affects phenotypes of putative tiger subspecies has not been explicitly addressed. In order to assess the role of phenotypic plasticity in determining skull variation, we compared skull morphology among continental tigers from zoos and the wild. In turn, we examine continental tiger skulls from across their wild range, to evaluate how the different environmental conditions experienced by individuals in the wild can influence morphological variation. Fifty-seven measurements from 172 specimens were used to analyse size and shape differences among wild and captive continental tiger skulls. Captive specimens have broader skulls, and shorter rostral depths and mandible heights than wild specimens. In addition, sagittal crest size is larger in wild Amur tigers compared with those from captivity, and it is larger in wild Amur tigers compared with other wild continental tigers. The degree of phenotypic plasticity shown by the sagittal crest, skull width and rostral height suggests that the distinctive shape of Amur tiger skulls compared with that of other continental tigers is mostly a phenotypically plastic response to differences in their environments.
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Sand cat Felis Margarita (Felidae) is a small cat distributed in deserts of North Africa, Arabia, Central Asia, Pakistan and central Iran. This species is listed as Least Concern (LC) by IUCN and categorized on appendix II of the CITES. Successful conservation of this species demands for a comprehensive understanding of its habitat requirements. In this study, a Bayesian Belief Network (BBN) habitat suitability model was developed for sand cat through a practice of knowledge elicitation, calibration, sensitivity analysis and verification. Denning possibility, prey density, distance to Haloxylon woods, and soil stability were recognized as the most important variables determining habitat suitability of sand cat. Overall accuracy of the model was calculated at 96.7% using 120 presence/absence points collected across the species habitat in eastern Isfahan province. The results of model evaluation by sensitivity analysis and using data from fieldwork showed that the prepared model works well to determine habitat suitability. The results of this model not only combined the expert opinion and quantitative data obtained from land use maps, but also provided a good basis for use in adaptive management for the management of sand cat habitats.
Article
The common leopard (Panthera pardus) is known to have a wide dietary spectrum and plays a significant role in maintaining the balance within an ecological community. The present study on dietary composition was conducted in Kazinag National Park (KNP) of Kashmir Himalayas for two seasons (summer and winter) of the two consecutive years (2019 and 2020) to augment the existing literature and investigate the role of leopard as an apex predator in KNP which is home to several threatened wild ungulates. We used the scat analysis method for which a total of 134 scats (summer, n = 73; winter, n = 61) were collected within 21 sampling trails in the park. In summer livestock was more frequent in the diet (47.38%) than wild ungulates (16.47%). However, in the winter diet, a higher proportion of wild ungulates (58.89%) was represented than domestic livestock (9.01%). Meso-mammals including monkey, red fox and domestic dog formed more or less similar proportions in the summer and winter diet of the leopard. Himalayan goral had a higher frequency of occurrence (63.43) in winter scats, whereas domestic goat had a higher frequency of occurrence (64.17) in summer scats. Kruskal-Wallis test revealed significant differences in proportions of livestock (p < 0.05) and wild ungulates (p < 0.05) between summer and winter diet, however, insignificant difference was recorded for meso mammals. This livestock depredation would always keep leopard at a higher risk of being killed in conflict with humans. Therefore, special management efforts are needed to initiate conservation action for management of the leopard population in the national park.
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This study aimed to investigate the effect of reducing the amount of organic waste on the weight of cats in Tehran. The weight of 4192 cats was measured from spring 2016 to the end of winter 2020. They were classified into 6 age groups, 2 gender groups, and 13 geographical areas. Their weight was measured for 48 months (16 seasons). The statistical parameters analysis showed no weight loss in 2017, but since 2018, cats have been losing weight every year. They had lost about 178g of their weight in 2018. The sharpest annual decrease was observed in 2019 when about 301g of weight loss was recorded. In the winter of 2020, 115g of weight loss took place. In the spring of 2017, no weight change was observed, but in the spring of 2018, the cats lost 155g of their weight. Their weight loss intensified in the spring of 2019 and about 299g of weight loss was observed. In the summer of 2017, as in the spring of the same year, no weight loss was recorded, but for the summer of 2018, the weight loss was evident and about 205g of the weight of the cats had been reduced. The weight loss in the summer of 2019 not only continued but intensified and about 304g of weight loss was recorded for cats. Weight change was not observed in the fall of 2017 as in the spring and summer of the same year. In the fall of 2018, weight loss was recorded for cats. They had lost about 324g of their weight in the fall of 2018. Also, they experienced a weight loss of about 218g in the fall of 2019. During the spring, summer, and autumn of 2017, no weight loss was observed in the cats for the winter of 2018, but in the winter of 2019, the cats faced the most severe weight loss (seasonally). They lost about 401g of weight in the winter of 2019. Of course, in the winter of 2020, about 186g of weight loss was observed in cats. The results showed that female cats did not lose weight in 2017 but experienced weight loss in 2018 with a weight loss of 181g. The weight loss of females intensified in 2019 and 294g of weight loss was recorded. Female cats lost 186g of their weight in the winter of 2020. Male cats did not lose weight like female cats in 2017. But in 2018, a weight loss of 166g was observed in male cats. The weight loss of male cats continued in 2019 and 311g of weight loss was recorded for them. However, in 2020, unlike females, weight loss was not observed in male cats. It can be said that both sexes lost more weight in the winter of 2019 than in other seasons. In 2017, weight loss was observed only for the region of 10, and in the same year, weight gain was recorded for the region of 15. But in 2018, except for regions 3, 4, 15, and 19, weight loss was observed in other regions. In 2019, the weight loss of cats spread and weight loss was observed in all regions except the region of 12. In winter 2020, weight loss was recorded only in the region of 4. In the end, it can be concluded that the weight of cats has decreased since the spring of 2018 because the beginning of the decrease in the amount of organic waste has been recorded since the winter of 2018. So, there is a direct relationship between the weight of cats and the amount of organic waste (access to food). The amount of garbage has been decreasing since the winter of 2018, and the average weight of cats has also been decreasing since the spring of 2018 due to the decrease in access to food.
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Thesis
El puma (Puma concolor) es una de las especies de fauna nativa más misteriosas de América. Raramente las personas pueden observar a este animal en su medio natural; esto caracteriza a la especie como poco reconocida y, por ende, poco comprendida. En el Perú, ha recibido escasa atención de las instituciones y organizaciones comprometidas con la vida silvestre, de los investigadores y del público en general. En ciertas regiones ha sido con frecuencia el centro de controversias entre ganaderos y autoridades públicas o técnicos especialistas. En ese sentido, la conservación la población de pumas a largo plazo pasa por obtener información de las características de sus hábitos alimentarios, uso de hábitat e impactos de la depredación sobre especies animales domésticas y silvestres, a través de investigaciones continuas. En el Coto de Caza El Angolo, CCEA (Sullana–Piura) y áreas aledañas, el puma es reconocido como un depredador del ganado doméstico de las poblaciones humanas asentadas en la región; así, continuamente se conoce de ataques a cabras y terneros en diferentes localidades cercanas al Coto de Caza. Los pobladores envenenan a esos gatos para darles fin y así eliminan el problema, hasta que aparece un nuevo individuo acostumbrado a depredar ganado en la región. El venado gris o venado cola blanca (Odocoileus virginianus) es la presa más importante en la dieta del puma en el sector Sauce Grande del Coto de Caza El Angolo; como componente del hábitat del puma, el venado es relevante en su alimentación tanto a nivel de abundancia como de frecuencia de ocurrencia. Otras especies presa de importancia son la cabra (Capra hircus), el sajino (Dicotyles tajacu) y el zorro costeño (Lycalopex sechurae). El presente trabajo de tesis tiene por objetivos a) Determinar los hábitos alimentarios del puma en el Coto de Caza El Angolo y áreas aledañas (basado en el análisis cualitativo de heces colectadas en el campo, como una aproximación al uso del hábitat); b) Basado en lo anterior, definir la importancia de la incidencia de ataques de puma sobre el ganado doméstico de la región; y c) Generar recomendaciones para atenuar la incidencia del puma sobre los animales domésticos.
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Article
Early deprivation of adult influence is known to have long‐lasting effects on social abilities, notably communication skills, as adults play a key role in guiding and regulating the behavior of youngsters, including acoustic repertoire use in species in which vocal production is not learned. Cheetahs grow up alongside their mother for 18 months, thus maternal influences on the development of social skills are likely to be crucial. Here, we investigated the impact of early maternal deprivation on vocal production and use in 12 wild‐born cheetahs, rescued and subsequently hand‐reared either at an early (less than 2 months) or a later stage of development. We could distinguish 16 sound types, produced mostly singly but sometimes in repeated or multitype sound sequences. The repertoire of these cheetahs did not differ fundamentally from that described in other studies on adult cheetahs, but statistical analyses revealed a concurrent effect of both early experience and sex on repertoire use. More specifically, early‐reared males were characterized by a high proportion of Purr, Meow, and Stutter; early‐reared females Mew, Growl, Hoot, Sneeze, and Hiss; late‐reared males Meow, Mew, Growl, and Howl; and late‐reared females mostly Meow. Our study demonstrates therefore the long‐term effects of maternal deprivation on communication skills in a limited‐vocal learner and its differential effect according to sex, in line with known social differences and potential differential maternal investment. More generally, it emphasizes the critical importance to consider the past history of the subjects (e.g., captive/wild‐born, mother/hand‐reared, early/late‐mother‐deprived, etc.) when studying social behavior, notably acoustic communication.
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Human-carnivore conflicts occur globally and are a leading cause of carnivore population declines. Such conflicts usually occur when carnivores predate livestock and can include preemptive and retaliatory killing of carnivores by livestock farmers. In northern Botswana, livestock farming is a widespread and culturally important practice. Subsistence farming enterprises commonly abut protected areas, and human-carnivore conflicts are common. Understanding interactions between livestock and carnivores, and how livestock use resources and habitats generally, are important components to managing these conflicts. Throughout this thesis, I explore human-carnivore conflict in northern Botswana. I found that livestock resource selection and predation vary seasonally and spatially in relation to ecological and anthropogenic features in the landscape. Predation sites are subsequently avoided by cattle in the short-term, but not by goats. Contemporary mitigation to minimise livestock predation events commonly includes lethal control and broadscale exclusion by artificial barriers and aversive interventions, yet naturally occurring deterrent signals fine-tuned through evolution are rarely considered. Lions roar to deter conspecifics from territorial boundaries, which prey and subordinate carnivores eavesdrop on and modify their movement and behaviour in response. I used lion vocalisations to understand livestock (prey) responses to this apex carnivore and to test how effective roars are in deterring lions and other carnivores. Using a high-tech experimental approach, I found that (1) cattle avoid lion vocalizations, while goats do not, and (2) lions are not deterred by lion roars played-back from Remotely Operated Acoustic Repellent stations (ROARs), nor are other human-carnivore conflict species occurring in the area. Finally, I used a commonly occurring anti-predator signal in nature, demonstrating that artificial eyespots painted on cattle rumps deter lions from attacking cattle. Collectively, the results from my thesis can be used to better manage livestock in a landscape of risk, and to promote human-carnivore coexistence by deterring predation. Applications derived from my thesis to promote human-carnivore coexistence can be used across Africa and the globe.
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Preprint
The scaling pattern of the forelimb in Carnivora was determined using a sample of 30 variables measured on the scapula, humerus, radius, ulna, and third metacarpal, of 429 specimens belonging to 137 species of Carnivora. Standardized major axis regressions on body mass were calculated for all variables, using both traditional regression methods and phylogenetically independent contrasts (PIC). In agreement with previous studies on the scaling of the appendicular skeleton, conformity to either the geometric similarity hypothesis or the elastic similarity hypothesis was low. The scaling pattern of several phyletic lines and locomotor types within Carnivora was also determined, and significant deviations from the scaling pattern of the order were found in some of these subsamples. Furthermore, significant evidence for differential scaling was found for several variables, both in the whole sample and in various phylogenetic and locomotor subsamples. Contrary to previous studies, significant differences were found between the allometric exponents obtained with traditional and PIC regression methods, emphasizing the need to take into account phylogenetic relatedness in scaling studies. In light of these and previous results, we conclude that similarity hypotheses are too simplistic to describe scaling patterns in the carnivoran appendicular skeleton, and thus we propose that scaling hypotheses should be built from similarities in the scaling patterns of phylogenetically narrow samples of species with similar locomotor requirements. The present work is a first step in the study of those samples.
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Morphology often relates to ecology in a well-defined manner, enabling prediction of ecological roles for taxa that lack direct observations, such a fossils. Diet is a particularly important component of a species' ecology. However, in order to predict diet it must first be codified, and establishing metrics that effectively summarize dietary variability without excessive information loss remains challenging. We employed a dietary item relative importance coding scheme to derive multivariate dietary classifications for a sample of extant carnivoran mammals, and then used Bayesian multilevel modeling to assess whether these scores could be predicted from a set of dental metrics, with body size as a covariate. There is no "one size fits all" model for predicting dietary item importance; different topographical features best predict different foods at different body sizes, and model-averaged estimates perform especially well. We show how models derived from living taxa can be used to provide novel insights into the dietary diversity of extinct carnivoran species. Our approach need not be limited to diet as an ecological trait of interest, to these phenotypic traits, or to carnivorans. Rather, this framework serves as a general approach to predicting multivariate ecology from phenotypic traits.
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The Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) is one of the widespread felids in Eurasia; however, relatively little is known about the Asian subspecies, and especially the Iranian populations, which comprise the most southwestern part of its range. The current study aimed to assess the phylogenetic status of Iranian populations relative to other populations of Eurasia, by sequencing a 613 bp fragment of the mitochondrial control region. In total, 44 haplotypes were recorded from 83 sequences throughout Eurasia, two of which were found in Iran. The haplotype (H1) is dominant in all Iranian lynx populations and identical to specimens from SW Russia and central China. The second haplotype (H2) is unique and was recorded only from Ghazvin Province in the central Alborz Mountains. Both haplotypes occur in Ghazvin Province. The phylogenetic tree and a median-joining network identified four clades (i.e., East, West 1, West 2, and South). These results are congruent with previous studies and suggest that Eurasian lynx was restricted to the southern part of its range during the glacial maxima and expanded from there to East Asia and to Europe during several independent re-colonization events. The Caucasus region most like plays an important role as a refugium during glacial cycles.
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Background Body mass estimation is of paramount importance for paleobiological studies, as body size influences numerous other biological parameters. In mammals, body mass has been traditionally estimated using regression equations based on measurements of the dentition or limb bones, but for many species teeth are unreliable estimators of body mass and postcranial elements are unknown. This issue is exemplified in several groups of extinct mammals that have disproportionately large heads relative to their body size and for which postcranial remains are rare. In these taxa, previous authors have noted that the occiput is unusually small relative to the skull, suggesting that occiput dimensions may be a more accurate predictor of body mass. Results The relationship between occipital condyle width (OCW) and body mass was tested using a large dataset (2127 specimens and 404 species) of mammals with associated in vivo body mass. OCW was found to be a strong predictor of body mass across therian mammals, with regression models of Mammalia as a whole producing error values (~ 31.1% error) comparable to within-order regression equations of other skeletal variables in previous studies. Some clades (e.g., monotremes, lagomorphs) exhibited specialized occiput morphology but followed the same allometric relationship as the majority of mammals. Compared to two traditional metrics of body mass estimation, skull length, and head-body length, OCW outperformed both in terms of model accuracy. Conclusions OCW-based regression models provide an alternative method of estimating body mass to traditional craniodental and postcranial metrics and are highly accurate despite the broad taxonomic scope of the dataset. Because OCW accurately predicts body mass in most therian mammals, it can be used to estimate body mass in taxa with no close living analogues without concerns of insufficient phylogenetic bracketing or extrapolating beyond the bounds of the data. This, in turn, provides a robust method for estimating body mass in groups for which body mass estimation has previously been problematic (e.g., “creodonts” and other extinct Paleogene mammals). Paper currently available as open access at https://bmcbiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12915-021-01224-9.
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