Does size matter? An investigation of habitat use across a carnivore assemblage in the Serengeti, Tanzania

Sarah M. Durant, Meggan E. Craft, Charles Foley, Katie Hampson, Alex L. Lobora, Maurus Msuha, Ernest Eblate, John Bukombe, John Mchetto, Nathalie Pettorelli

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21 Scopus citations


1. This study utilizes a unique data set covering over 19 000 georeferenced records of species presence collected between 1993 and 2008, to explore the distribution and habitat selectivity of an assemblage of 26 carnivore species in the Serengeti-Ngorongoro landscape in northern Tanzania. 2. Two species, the large-spotted genet and the bushy-tailed mongoose, were documented for the first time within this landscape. Ecological Niche Factor Analysis (ENFA) was used to examine habitat selectivity for 18 of the 26 carnivore species for which there is sufficient data. Eleven ecogeographical variables (EGVs), such as altitude and habitat type, were used for these analyses. 3. The ENFA demonstrated that species differed in their habitat selectivity, and supported the limited ecological information already available for these species, such as the golden jackals' preference for grassland and the leopards' preference for river valleys. 4. Two aggregate scores, marginality and tolerance, are generated by the ENFA, and describe each species' habitat selectivity in relation to the suite of EGVs. These scores were used to test the hypothesis that smaller species are expected to be more selective than larger species [Science, 1989, 243, 1145]. Two predictions were tested: Marginality should decrease with body mass; and tolerance should increase with body mass. Our study provided no evidence for either prediction. 5. Our results not only support previous analyses of carnivore diet breadth, but also represent a novel approach to the investigation of habitat selection across species assemblages. Our method provides a powerful tool to explore similar questions in other systems and for other taxa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1012-1022
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • Canidae
  • Carnivore biodiversity
  • Coexistence
  • East Africa
  • Felidae
  • Habitat use
  • Herpestidae
  • Hyaenidae
  • Macroecology
  • Mustelidae


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