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Socioecology Explains Individual Variation in Urban Space Use in Response to Management in Cape Chacma Baboons (Papio ursinus)

Anna Bracken, Charlotte Christensen, M. Justin O’Riain, Gaelle Fehlmann, Mark Holton Orcid Logo, Philip Hopkins, Ines Fuertbauer Orcid Logo, Andrew King Orcid Logo

International Journal of Primatology

Swansea University Authors: Anna Bracken, Charlotte Christensen, Gaelle Fehlmann, Mark Holton Orcid Logo, Philip Hopkins, Ines Fuertbauer Orcid Logo, Andrew King Orcid Logo

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Abstract

The presence of wildlife adjacent to and within urban spaces is a growing phenomenon globally. When wildlife’s presence in urban spaces has negative impacts for people and wildlife, nonlethal and lethal interventions on animals invariably result. Recent evidence suggests that individuals in wild ani...

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Published in: International Journal of Primatology
ISSN: 0164-0291 1573-8604
Published: Springer Science and Business Media LLC 2021
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa59107
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Abstract: The presence of wildlife adjacent to and within urban spaces is a growing phenomenon globally. When wildlife’s presence in urban spaces has negative impacts for people and wildlife, nonlethal and lethal interventions on animals invariably result. Recent evidence suggests that individuals in wild animal populations vary in both their propensity to use urban space and their response to nonlethal management methods. Understanding such interindividual differences and the drivers of urban space use could help inform management strategies. We use direct observation and high-resolution GPS (1 Hz) to track the space use of 13 adult individuals in a group of chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) living at the urban edge in Cape Town, South Africa. The group is managed by a dedicated team of field rangers, who use aversive conditioning to reduce the time spent by the group in urban spaces. Adult males are larger, more assertive, and more inclined to enter houses, and as such are disproportionately subject to “last resort” lethal management. Field rangers therefore focus efforts on curbing the movements of adult males, which, together with high-ranking females and their offspring, comprise the bulk of the group. However, our results reveal that this focus allows low-ranking, socially peripheral female baboons greater access to urban spaces. We suggest that movement of these females into urban spaces, alone or in small groups, is an adaptive response to management interventions, especially given that they have no natural predators. These results highlight the importance of conducting behavioral studies in conjunction with wildlife management, to ensure effective mitigation techniques.
Keywords: Baboon; Dominance rank; Management; Social cohesion; Urban space use
College: College of Science
Funders: This research was supported by grants (awarded to AJK) from Swansea University’s College of Science and the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB). JO’R was supported by NRF incentive funding.