Changes in home range size of African lions in relation to pride size and prey biomass in a semi-arid savanna
Loveridge AJ., Valeix M., Davidson Z., Murindagomo F., Fritz H., MacDonald DW.
Within-population studies are needed to investigate the extent of, and the factors underlying, intraspecific variation in home range size. We used data from 12 female and 8 male adult lions instrumented with GPS radio-collars to describe the ranging behaviour of lions in a population from a dystrophic semi-arid savanna, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. We measured prey availability at the home range scale in 2003, 2004, and 2005. For females, home range size increased as pride biomass increased, which is strongly suggestive of expansionism. Once controlled for pride biomass, home range size decreased as prey biomass increased. Pride ranges responded to changes in food abundance on an annual timescale rather than on a seasonal timescale. Female home range size was influenced by the abundance of kudu in the early dry season, whereas it was influenced by buffalo and young elephant abundance in the late dry season. This study shows that female home range size is mainly driven by the size of the pride, but also by prey abundance. Furthermore, female seasonal home range size may be determined, not only by prey abundance, but also by prey dispersion in the landscape. Home range size of males was driven by both prey biomass and the density of female prides. © 2009 Ecography.