TitleAntelope space-use and behavior indicate multilevel responses to varying anthropogenic influences in a highly human-dominated landscape.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsJha RRaj, Isvaran K
JournalEcol Evol
Date Published2022 Oct

A primary means of conserving a species or a habitat in a human-dominated landscape is through promoting coexistence with humans while minimizing conflict. For this, we should understand how wildlife is impacted by direct and indirect human activities. Such information is rare in areas with high human densities. To investigate how animals respond to altered ecological conditions in human-dominated landscapes, we focused on a wild herbivore of conservation concern in the Krishnasaar Conservation Area (KrCA) in Nepal. Here, blackbuck , a generalist grazer, lives in refugia located with a growing human population. We studied the impacts of humans on habitat use and behavior of blackbuck. We laid 250 × 250 m grid cells in the entire KrCA and carried out indirect sign surveys with three replications for habitat use assessment. We observed herds of blackbuck for 89 h in different habitat types using scan sampling methods. Our habitat-use survey showed that habitats under intensive human use were hardly used by blackbuck, even when high-quality forage was available. Habitat openness was the major predictor of habitat use inside the core area, where levels of human activities were low. We also found a positive correlation between habitat use by blackbuck and livestock. Blackbuck were substantially more vigilant when they were in forest than in grassland, again indicating an influence of risk. Overall, blackbuck appear to be sensitive to the risk associated with both natural and anthropogenic factors. Our findings have direct implications for managing human-wildlife interactions in this landscape, specifically regarding strategies for livestock grazing in habitats highly used by blackbuck and concerning predictions of how changing land use will impact the long-term persistence of blackbuck. Our work suggests that wild herbivores may be able to persist in landscapes with high human densities so long as there are refuges where human activities are relatively low.

Alternate JournalEcol Evol
PubMed ID36203630
PubMed Central IDPMC9526116