Drivers of diurnal rest site selection by spotted hyaenas
Kushata JNT., Périquet S., Tarakini T., Muzamba M., Mafuwa B., Loveridge AJ., Macdonald DW., Fritz H., Valeix M.
© 2017 The Zoological Society of London Rest sites are key locations to many animals but their selection has been poorly studied in large carnivores. We investigated seasonal diurnal rest site selection by spotted hyaenas (Crocuta crocuta) in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. We assessed the effects on hyaena diurnal rest site selection of (1) distance to the nearest waterhole, as waterholes can be considered prey hotspots in the study ecosystem, (2) habitat type and vegetation characteristics, in particular visibility as it influences detection risk and shade for thermoregulation, (3) location within the core territory of their main competitor/predator, the African lion (Panthera leo), where encounter risk would be higher, (4) distance to the closest lion and (5) distance to the nearest road as they can facilitate travelling by carnivores. We defined rest sites as midday locations of hyaenas equipped with GPS collars. Hyaenas preferred to rest in woodland areas with low visibility, close to roads and far from a lion. Distance to the nearest waterhole and location within lion core territory did not affect hyaena rest site selection. Overall, our study points to the combined importance of the structure of the vegetation (providing safety and shade), the availability of roads (to move through and exploit this bushed environment) and the avoidance of proximity to lions.