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6 January 2022 Factors predicting habitat use by leopards in human-altered landscapes
Jeannine McManus, Jason P. Marshal, Mark Keith, Thulani Tshabalala, Bool Smuts, Adrian Treves
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Transformed landscapes caused by human activity leave remnant patches of natural habitat for wildlife. The persistence of species in the face of such transformation depends on individuals' ability to adapt to novel habitat, and to secure resources and reproductive opportunities despite habitat alterations. The leopard, Panthera pardus, is the last free-roaming top carnivore in South Africa whose high trophic status and wide-ranging movements make them an effective focal species in conservation planning. Using location data from leopards, we investigated key correlates of habitat selection in human-altered landscapes at two spatial scales. We compared sex-related differences and predicted how conspecific home range locations influenced habitat selection. Leopards avoided human-altered landscapes more strongly at the large spatial scale, where both sexes selected core areas near formally protected areas. Conspecific home range locations had a strong positive effect at both spatial scales for males, while for females, conspecifics explained fine-scale habitat selection by selecting areas near neighboring females. Spatial scale, sex-related differences, and conspecific location play roles in habitat selection for solitary felids and have implications for conservation planning and management. Excluding these factors may result in inappropriate species management policies.

Jeannine McManus, Jason P. Marshal, Mark Keith, Thulani Tshabalala, Bool Smuts, and Adrian Treves "Factors predicting habitat use by leopards in human-altered landscapes," Journal of Mammalogy 102(6), 1473-1483, (6 January 2022).
Received: 20 August 2020; Accepted: 2 September 2021; Published: 6 January 2022
carnivore conservation
conspecific home range location
habitat selection
leopard (Panthera pardus)
spatial scale
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