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1 December 2013 Regional variation in body size of the cheetah ( Acinonyx jubatus)
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Abstract

Body size affects almost every aspect of the biology of a species, with considerable intraspecific variation. Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) reportedly vary in body size across their geographical range. However, because morphometric measurements were not taken in a standardized manner, it is impossible to rule out differences in measurement protocols as the cause. Our study differed from previous ones in that we made use of a standardized methodology for taking morphometric measurements in cheetahs. Free-ranging cheetahs in Namibia were shorter (3.5–4.1%) and slimmer (4.0–7.0%) than those in neighboring Botswana. Cheetah density was more than 3 times higher and home-range sizes were more than 3 times smaller in Botswana compared to Namibia. This suggests that variation in resource availability may be the main driver of the fine-scale spatial differences in morphometric measurements. Overall, our study promotes the use of standardized protocols for measuring morphological traits in free-ranging animals.

Lorraine K. Boast, Ann Marie Houser, Kyle Good, and Markus Gusset "Regional variation in body size of the cheetah ( Acinonyx jubatus)," Journal of Mammalogy 94(6), 1293-1297, (1 December 2013). https://doi.org/10.1644/13-MAMM-A-076.1
Received: 21 March 2013; Accepted: 1 July 2013; Published: 1 December 2013
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