Ecological relationships of black-footed cats (Felis nigripes) and sympatric canids in South Africa
Kamler JF., Stenkewitz U., Sliwa A., Wilson B., Lamberski N., Herrick JR., Macdonald DW.
The black-footed cat (Felis nigripes) is sympatric with several species of larger carnivores, although it is not known how this species partitions resources with potential competitors. From 2006 to 2008, we captured, radio-collared, and monitored 3 adult black-footed cats on Benfontein Game Farm in South Africa. We investigated their spatial, habitat, temporal, and dietary overlap with Cape foxes (Vulpes chama), bat-eared foxes (Otocyon megalotis), and black-backed jackals (Canis mesomelas) that were monitored during a concurrent study. Annual home range sizes of black-footed cats were 7.1km2 for the adult female, and 15.6 and 21.3km2 for the two adult males. Home ranges overlapped completely with the canid species, whereas core areas overlapped the most with jackals (79%), compared to Cape foxes (28%) and bat-eared foxes (21%). Within home ranges, black-footed cats selected habitats in proportion to availability, similar to Cape foxes, but in contrast to jackals and bat-eared foxes. Black-footed cats were primarily nocturnal, and their activity patterns significantly differed from jackals (P <0.001), marginally differed from bat-eared foxes (P =0.082), but did not differ from Cape foxes (P =0.717). Dietary overlap of black-footed cats was high with Cape foxes (R 0 =0.83), compared to jackals (R 0 =0.42) and bat-eared foxes (R 0 =0.12). Two black-footed cats were killed by predation, at least one of which appeared to be by jackals. We conclude that black-footed cats coexisted with jackals by using burrows during the day, and by partitioning activity and diets, but not space. In contrast, black-footed cats appeared to coexist with Cape foxes by partitioning space, but not habitats, activity, or diets. Black-footed cats exhibited relatively low amounts of overlap with bat-eared foxes across resources. Our results show that black-footed cats partitioned resources differently among the sympatric canids, which ultimately facilitated coexistence with these larger carnivores.