Response of southern African ungulate species to supplementary feeding during drought: Species‐specific differences in relative use, food choice and intraspecific behavioural interactions

Goodenough, Anne E ORCID: 0000-0002-7662-6670, Sparkes, Emily G, Dawson, Melissa, MacTavish, Lynne and Hart, Adam G ORCID: 0000-0002-4795-9986 (2022) Response of southern African ungulate species to supplementary feeding during drought: Species‐specific differences in relative use, food choice and intraspecific behavioural interactions. African Journal of Ecology. doi:10.1111/aje.12954 (In Press)

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Abstract

In southern Africa, climate change is increasing drought severity and duration. One way to mitigate drought-induced food shortages is supplementary feeding, but ungulate responses are largely unstudied. Here, we analyse ~250 h of video footage from camera traps at feeding stations in South Africa during a year when rainfall was ~50% of the decadal average. Feeding station usage was highly uneven: eland (Taurotragus oryx), greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros), sable (Hippotragus niger) and white rhino (Ceratotherium simum) were over-represented relative to their local population; and impala (Aepyceros melampus), blesbok (Damaliscus dorxas phillipsi) and zebra (Equus quagga) were under-represented. In total, 81% of individuals at feeding stations fed (0%–90% for different species). Guarding behaviour was observed, especially by eland and kudu, potentially excluding other (smaller) species. Overall, 17% visits involving ≥2 individuals involved intraspecific aggression (highest for sable (40%) and eland (27%); low/absent otherwise); there were very few (n = 6) inter-specific encounters. Lucerne and teff hay were consumed more frequently than Boskos (pellets), which was favoured by non-target primates and ungulates showing guarding behaviour. As benefits of feeding are unequal, and can encourage guarding and intraspecific aggression, we suggest feeding should be done with caution, especially if the aim is to benefit specific species.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Body condition; Feeding stations; Starvation; Supplemental food
Related records:
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology > QL605 Chordates. Vertebrates
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Natural & Social Sciences > Environmental Sciences
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Rhiannon Goodland
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2022 16:16
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2022 16:30
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/10585

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