Coursing hyenas and stalking lions: The potential for inter- and intraspecific interactions


Resource partitioning promotes coexistence among guild members, and carnivores reduce interference competition through behavioral mechanisms that promote spatio-temporal separation. We analyzed sympatric lion and spotted hyena movements and activity patterns to ascertain the mechanisms facilitating their coexistence within semi-arid and wetland ecosystems. We identified recurrent high-use (revisitation) and extended stay (duration) areas within home ranges, as well as correlated movement-derived measures of inter- and intraspecific interactions with environmental variables. Spatial overlaps among lions and hyenas expanded during the wet season, and occurred at edges of home ranges, around water-points, along pathways between patches of high-use areas. Lions shared more of their home ranges with spotted hyenas in arid ecosystems, but shared more of their ranges with conspecifics in mesic environments. Despite shared space use, we found evidence for subtle temporal differences in the nocturnal movement and activity patterns between the two predators, suggesting a fine localized-scale avoidance strategy. Revisitation frequency and duration within home ranges were influenced by interspecific interactions, after land cover categories and diel cycles. Intraspecific interactions were also important for lions and, important for hyenas were moon illumination and ungulates attracted to former anthrax carcass sites in Etosha, with distance to water in Chobe/Linyanti. Recursion and duration according to locales of competitor probabilities were similar among female lions and both sexes of hyenas, but different for male lions. Our results suggest that lions and spotted hyenas mediate the potential for interference competition through subtle differences in temporal activity, fine-scale habitat use differentiation, and localized reactive-avoidance behaviors. These findings enhance our understanding of the potential effects of interspecific interactions among large carnivore space-use patterns within an apex predator system and show adaptability across heterogeneous and homogeneous environments. Future conservation plans should emphasize the importance of inter- and intraspecific competition within large carnivore communities, particularly moderating such effects within increasingly fragmented landscapes.

leopard panthera-pardus, etosha-national-park, puma puma-concolor, spotted hyaenas, large carnivore, habitat use, interference competition, ecological relationships, sympatric carnivores, population-dynamics