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Clemson University

1. Gigliotti, Laura. Individual, Population, and Community-Level Drivers of Cheetah (<i>Acinonyx jubatus</i>) Population Dynamics.

Degree: PhD, Forestry and Environmental Conservation, 2020, Clemson University

Ecological processes can operate at different scales; individual characteristics can scale-up and affect individual performance, which in turn can influence population and community-level processes. Similarly, processes at the community or population level can affect individual characteristics. For mesopredators, the majority of prior research has focused on how top-down regulation by apex predators affects population dynamics. In contrast, less is known about how mesopredators can be affected by processes happening at the individual, population, and community-level simultaneously. I studied a population of cheetahs (<i>Acinonyx jubatus</i>) in the Mun-Ya-Wana Conservancy, South Africa to better understand how ecological processes across multiple scales can affect mesopredators. In Chapter 1, I investigated population-level drivers of survival, reproduction, and recruitment of cheetahs using a 25-year dataset. I found that demographic drivers were complex and context dependent. Specifically, cheetah monthly survival was best described by lion density and prey density, but opposite of predicted relationships; both adults and cubs had the highest survival when lion densities were highest and prey densities were lowest. I found that there were no strong drivers of litter size, but that cheetahs had the highest recruitment during times of low cheetah density and low prey density. Next, in Chapter 2 I considered how individual habitat use of cheetahs can scale-up and influence population survival. I assessed habitat use at short-term and long-term scales in relation to lion density, prey density, and habitat complexity and used these spatial covariates to predict survival. I found that over both the short-term and the long-term, cheetah survival was highest in areas with open vegetation, and that over the long-term cheetah survival was lowest in areas of high lion density. In Chapter 3, I examined how spatial and temporal variation in predation risk, as well as habitat complexity, can influence cheetah anti-predator behaviors. Using a playback experiment, I manipulated short-term risk in areas of varying long-term risk and assessed cheetah behavioral responses. I found that cheetah vigilance was not associated with long-term predation risk, but that cheetahs responded to short-term risk by being vigilant or fleeing. Additionally, habitat complexity affected cheetah anti-predator behaviors, with cheetah more vigilant in open areas and more likely to flee from lion sounds in closed vegetation and from leopard sounds in open vegetation. Finally, in Chapter 4 I investigated how habitat disturbance can affect carnivore coexistence and suppression. I used prescribed burning to experimentally increase prey densities and monitored how individual species, as well as large carnivores and small carnivores as a whole, respond to burning. I found that some large and small carnivores increased use of burned areas post-fire, but that most carnivores were unaffected by burning. Small carnivores may have experienced a suppression of… Advisors/Committee Members: David S Jachowski, Robert Baldwin, Michael Childress, Beth Ross.

Subjects/Keywords: behavior; cheetah; demography; mesopredator; predation risk; prescribed fire

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APA (6th Edition):

Gigliotti, L. (2020). Individual, Population, and Community-Level Drivers of Cheetah (<i>Acinonyx jubatus</i>) Population Dynamics. (Doctoral Dissertation). Clemson University. Retrieved from https://tigerprints.clemson.edu/all_dissertations/2597

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Gigliotti, Laura. “Individual, Population, and Community-Level Drivers of Cheetah (<i>Acinonyx jubatus</i>) Population Dynamics.” 2020. Doctoral Dissertation, Clemson University. Accessed July 08, 2020. https://tigerprints.clemson.edu/all_dissertations/2597.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Gigliotti, Laura. “Individual, Population, and Community-Level Drivers of Cheetah (<i>Acinonyx jubatus</i>) Population Dynamics.” 2020. Web. 08 Jul 2020.

Vancouver:

Gigliotti L. Individual, Population, and Community-Level Drivers of Cheetah (<i>Acinonyx jubatus</i>) Population Dynamics. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. Clemson University; 2020. [cited 2020 Jul 08]. Available from: https://tigerprints.clemson.edu/all_dissertations/2597.

Council of Science Editors:

Gigliotti L. Individual, Population, and Community-Level Drivers of Cheetah (<i>Acinonyx jubatus</i>) Population Dynamics. [Doctoral Dissertation]. Clemson University; 2020. Available from: https://tigerprints.clemson.edu/all_dissertations/2597

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