Impacts of people and tigers on leopard spatiotemporal activity patterns in a global biodiversity hotspot


Neil Carter, Micah Jasny, Bhim Gurung, Jianguo Liu

Journal or Book Title: Global Ecology and Conservation

Keywords: Temporal activity; Space use; Camera traps; Occupancy models; Human traffic

Volume/Issue: Vol 3

Page Number(s): 149-162

Year Published: 2015


Leopard population declines largely occur in areas where leopards and people frequently
interact. Research on how leopards respond to human presence and competitors, like
other predators, can provide important insights on leopard ecology and conservation
in human-dominated regions; however, such research is lacking. Here we used data
from field cameras in 2010 and 2011 to examine how human presence, prey, and tigers
influence leopard spatiotemporal activity patterns in and around Nepal’s Chitwan National
Park, part of a global biodiversity hotspot. We found that leopards were adjusting their
spatiotemporal activity patterns to both tigers and people, but by different mechanisms.
Leopards spatially avoided tigers in 2010, but were generally active at the same times of
day that tigers were. Despite pervasive human presence, people on foot and vehicles had
no significant effect on leopard detection and space use, but leopard temporal activity was
displaced from those periods of time with highest human activity. Temporal displacement
from humans was especially pronounced outside the park, where there is a much
greater prevalence of natural resource collection by local people. Continuing to evaluate
the interconnections among leopards, tigers, prey, and people across different land
management regimes is needed to develop robust landscape-scale conservation strategies.

DOI: 10.1016/j.gecco.2014.11.013

Type of Publication: Journal Article