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Making a new house feel like home: Movements in introduced African ungulates

Lijcklama a Nijeholt, Christine (2018) Making a new house feel like home: Movements in introduced African ungulates. Master's Research Project 2, Ecology and Evolution.


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It is hypothesized that animals introduced into a novel environment will at first lack knowledge on the resource locations, but with time will accumulate this knowledge and adjust their foraging movements to become as efficient as possible since effectual foraging is essential for survival. No studies have looked at movements of introduced animals, even though this can be an important indicator of whether an animal is adapting to the new environment or not. During this study we obtained movement data on four African ungulate species (eland, impala, wildebeest and zebra) through GPS telemetry. We analysed if the net displacements were bigger for newly introduced animals due to their exploratory stage compared to those of the residents, and if with time this difference would subside, as the introduced animals discovered the resource locations and assembled into the existing herds. Additionally, we took the species’ feeding ecology into account for it was expected that the grazers would have bigger net displacements (zebra and wildebeest) than the mixed feeders (eland and impala) because of the bushy nature of the study area (grass patches spread apart). The zebra was predicted to have the biggest net displacements because it is a hindgut fermenter (needs to invest more time in foraging grass) and the rest are ruminants. No difference in movements were found between the eland and zebra within the first two weeks after introduction (we could not show if this happened for the impala and wildebeest because of lacking data) suggesting that the animals had acclimatized and found the resources. Alternatively, the stress of being collared for both the introduced and resident animals could be overriding the introduction effects. The introduced animals of all species did also not display differing movements from the residents the rest of the study time. The zebra had the biggest net displacements as expected, while the eland had the second biggest, probably because of its larger body size compared to the other ruminants. What should be done next is distinguish movements related to foraging, exploration and other behaviours so that a clearer picture can emerge on how introduced animals react to a new environment.

Item Type: Thesis (Master's Research Project 2)
Supervisor name: Smit, C.
Degree programme: Ecology and Evolution
Thesis type: Master's Research Project 2
Language: English
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2018
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2018 13:51

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