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10 July 2018 The influence of social and environmental factors on organization of African lion (Panthera leo) prides in the Okavango Delta
Robynne Kotze, Mark Keith, Christiaan W. Winterbach, Hanlie E. K. Winterbach, Jason P. Marshal
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Abstract

Carnivores that exhibit fission–fusion social organization can adapt group sizes to prevailing social and ecological conditions. This study focuses on social organization of African lions (Panthera leo) in the Okavango Delta, a seasonally flooded wetland. We used generalized estimating equations and generalized linear mixed models to estimate the effects of flooding, as well as prey availability and intraspecific competition on group sizes of lions. During years of high flood, total lion pride sizes as well as reproductive rates declined. Prides showed extensive overlap in annual home ranges, likely as a result of habitat saturation at high densities, and pride sizes were not limited by prey availability. At the subgroup level, the number of attending cubs was the most consistent predictor of subgroup size of adult females. For subgroups without cubs, higher numbers of neighbors in adjacent, competing prides resulted in larger subgroups in focal prides, likely to maintain numerical advantage in inter-pride encounters. Larger subgroups were also formed in response to greater availability of large prey, as successfully hunting large prey requires a greater degree of cooperation. In the southwestern Okavango Delta, competition for space resulting from changing flooding regimes is a greater limiting factor for total pride sizes than food availability.

© 2018 American Society of Mammalogists, www.mammalogy.org
Robynne Kotze, Mark Keith, Christiaan W. Winterbach, Hanlie E. K. Winterbach, and Jason P. Marshal "The influence of social and environmental factors on organization of African lion (Panthera leo) prides in the Okavango Delta," Journal of Mammalogy 99(4), 845-858, (10 July 2018). https://doi.org/10.1093/jmammal/gyy076
Received: 26 July 2017; Accepted: 24 June 2018; Published: 10 July 2018
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KEYWORDS
competition
flooding
lions
Okavango Delta
Panthera leo
prey availability
pride size
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