Using GPS collars to investigate the frequency and behavioural outcomes of intraspecific interactions among carnivores: A case study of male cheetahs in the Maasai Mara, Kenya.
Broekhuis F., Madsen EK., Keiwua K., Macdonald DW.
Intraspecific interactions between individuals or groups of individuals of the same species are an important component of population dynamics. Interactions can be static, such as spatial overlap, or dynamic based on the interactions of movements, and can be mediated through communication, such as the deployment of scent marks. Interactions and their behavioural outcomes can be difficult to determine, especially for species that live at low densities. With the use of GPS collars we quantify both static and dynamic interactions between male cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) and the behavioural outcomes. The 99% home-ranges of males overlapped significantly while there was little overlap of the 50% home-ranges. Despite this overlap, male cheetahs rarely came into close proximity of one another, possibly because presence was communicated through frequent visits to marking posts. The minimum distance between individuals in a dyad ranged from 89m to 196m but the average proximity between individuals ranged from 17,145 ± 6,865m to 26,367 ± 11,288m. Possible interactions took place more frequently at night than by day and occurred mostly in the 50% home-range of one individual of a dyad or where cores of both individuals overlapped. After a possible encounter male cheetahs stayed in close proximity to each other for up to 6 hours, which could be the result of a territory defence strategy or the presence of a receptive female. We believe that one of the encounters between a singleton and a 5-male coalition resulted in the death of the singleton. Our results give new insights into cheetah interactions, which could help our understanding of ecological processes such as disease transmission.