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Title: The influence of an apex predator introduction on an already established subordinate predator.
Authors: Parker, Daniel M.
School of Biology and Environmental Sciences
Keywords: Lions.;Cheetah diet.;Diets.;Preys.;Competitions.;South Africa.;Re-introduction of lions.;Conservation.;Acinonyx jubatus.;Mountain Zebra National Park.
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Wiley
Abstract: African lions (Panthera leo) can influence the location, distribution and behaviour of smaller carnivores such as cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus). In fenced protected areas, where space is limited, the effects of the apex predator can be exaggerated to the point of localized extinction of the subordinate. Here, we directly compare the prey selection of cheetahs before and after the re-introduction of lions to the Mountain Zebra National Park, South Africa. The lion re-introduction did not significantly influence the diet of the cheetahs. Greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) and springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) comprised >75% of cheetah diet both before and after the lion re-introduction with no noticeable changes in the size ranges of prey selected. In addition, there was no significant dietary overlap (O < 0.45) with the lions. Our study supports recent findings that cheetahs, as subordinate predators, can coexist with larger, more aggressive carnivores within an enclosed environment without compromising access to resources. However, our work represents a temporal snapshot into lion and cheetah foraging behaviour in an enclosed system and we recommend further research across multiple sites and predator densities.
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