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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Hidden Markov Models reveal a clear human footprint on the movements of highly mobile African wild dogs

Creel, Scott; Merkle, Johnathan; Mweetwa, Thandiwe; Becker, Matthew S.; Mwape, Henry; Simpamba, Twakundine; Simukonda, Chuma


Large carnivores have experienced considerable range contraction, increasing the importance of movement across human-altered landscapes between small, isolated populations. African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) are exceptionally wide-ranging, and recolonization is an important element of their persistence at broad scales. The competition-movement-connection hypothesis suggests that adaptations to move through areas that are unfavorable due to dominant competitors might promote the ability of subordinate competitors (like wild dogs) to move through areas that are unfavorable due to humans. Here, we used hidden Markov models to test how wild dog movements were affected by the Human Footprint Index in areas inside and outside of South Luangwa National Park. Movements were faster and more directed when outside the National Park, but slowed where the human footprint was stronger. Our results can be directly and quantitatively applied to connectivity planning, and we use them to identify ways to better understand differences between species in recent loss of connectivity.

Published in

Scientific Reports
2020, volume: 10, number: 1, article number: 17908

Authors' information

Montana State University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
Zambian Carnivore Programme
Merkle, Johnathan
Montana State University
Mweetwa, Thandiwe
Zambian Carnivore Programme
Becker, Matthew S.
Montana State University
Mwape, Henry
Zambian Carnivore Programme
Simpamba, Twakundine
Department of National Parks and Wildlife
Simukonda, Chuma
Department of National Parks and Wildlife

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