Riparian vegetation structure and the hunting behavior of adult estuarine crocodiles

Luke J. Evans, Andrew B. Davies, Benoit Goossens, Gregory P. Asner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Riparian ecosystems are amongst the most biodiverse tropical habitats. They are important, and essential, ecological corridors, linking remnant forest fragments. In this study, we hypothesised that crocodile’s actively select nocturnal resting locations based on increased macaque predation potential. We examined the importance of riparian vegetation structure in the maintenance of crocodile hunting behaviours. Using airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and GPS telemetry on animal movement, we identified the repeated use of nocturnal resting sites by adult estuarine crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) throughout the fragmented Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary in Sabah, Malaysia. Crocodile resting locations were found to resemble, in terms of habitat characteristics, the sleeping sites of long-tailed macaque; positioned in an attempt to avoid predation by terrestrial predators. We found individual crocodiles were actively selecting overhanging vegetation and that the protrusion of trees from the tree line was key to site selection by crocodiles, as well as influencing both the presence and group size of sleeping macaques. Although these findings are correlational, they have broad management implications, with the suggestion that riparian corridor maintenance and quality can have implications beyond that of terrestrial fauna. We further place our findings in the context of the wider ecosystem and the maintenance of trophic interactions, and discuss how future habitat management has the potential to mitigate human-wildlife conflict.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0184804
JournalPloS one
Volume12
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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