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© 2015 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde. Inter-specific killing is common among carnivore species and is likely to be a major driver of their spatial ecology and habitat selection. Here, we test how selection of, attendance at, and proximity to dens by spotted hyaenas may be influenced by the risk of predation by lions. We studied 57 dens in the semi-arid savanna of Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. Hyaenas did not appear to avoid denning in lion home ranges or their cores, but den selection correlated with environmental proxies of predation risk. Hyaenas preferred dens far from waterholes, which were intensively used by lions, and with numerous entrances presumably providing many escape options for cubs. Den attendance did not appear to be influenced by proxies of predation risk. However, as the risk of predation risk by lions (frequency and proximity of their presence in the vicinity of a den) increased during a given week, the likelihood of a hyaena visiting that den during this same week decreased (regardless of its current state, used or unused). This effect seemed to be stronger when lions were closer to the den. In addition, hyaenas appeared to adjust their patterns of den attendance according to recent (up to a month) lion presence in the vicinity of the den. They avoided using dens in a given week as the presence of lions during the preceding weeks increased. Hyaenas appeared to select their dens based on proxies of predation risk but may have also selected them depending on their knowledge of lion presence (current or past) in the area. Hyaena denning behaviour is therefore very dynamic and appears to be driven, at least in part, by the presence of their main competitor.

Original publication




Journal article


Mammalian Biology

Publication Date





227 - 234