Habitat partitioning by ungulates on a game ranch in the Mopani veld

Large herbivores display varying degrees of habitat selectivity and thus exhibit a heterogeneous distribution. This study investigated the spatial and temporal distribution of Burchells zebra Equus burchelli, blue wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus, eland Taurotragus oryx, gemsbok Oryx gazella, giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis, impala Aepyceros melampus, kudu Tragelaphus strepsiceros, and warthog Phacochoerus aethiopicus, on the Messina Experimental Farm. The sighting frequency of the ungulates, expressed as distance covered by vehicle, divided by the number of individuals of a species recorded, is presented for each of the plant communities in the study area. The road counts revealed that the sighting frequency of ungulate species in the different communities showed considerable variability. Correspondence analysis detected seasonal fluctuations in preference. In the warm, dry season the ungulates were widely separated in their use of the plant communities. Thirteen habitat variables that contributed to this ecological separation were identified. Preferences for plant communities, their seasonal variation and selection for specific environmental parameters, contributed to the ecological separation of ungulates on the Messina Experimental Farm.

Publish DateJuly 21, 2020
Last UpdatedJanuary 26, 2021
Size1.06 MB