Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

African wild dog movements show contrasting responses to long and short term risk of encountering lions: analysis using dynamic Brownian bridge movement models

Goodheart, Ben; Creel, Scott; Vinks, Milan A.; Banda, Kambwiri; de Merkle, Johnathan Reyes; Kusler, Anna; Dart, Chase; Banda, Kachama; Becker, Matthew S.; Indala, Peter; Simukonda, Chuma; Kaluka, Adrian


Background Prey depletion is a threat to the world's large carnivores, and is likely to affect subordinate competitors within the large carnivore guild disproportionately. African lions limit African wild dog populations through interference competition and intraguild predation. When lion density is reduced as a result of prey depletion, wild dogs are not competitively released, and their population density remains low. Research examining distributions has demonstrated spatial avoidance of lions by wild dogs, but the effects of lions on patterns of movement have not been tested. Movement is one of the most energetically costly activities for many species and is particularly costly for cursorial hunters like wild dogs. Therefore, testing how top-down, bottom-up, and anthropogenic variables affect movement patterns can provide insight into mechanisms that limit wild dogs (and other subordinate competitors) in resource-depleted ecosystems. Methods We measured movement rates using the motion variance from dynamic Brownian Bridge Movement Models (dBBMMs) fit to data from GPS-collared wild dogs, then used a generalized linear model to test for effects on movement of predation risk from lions, predictors of prey density, and anthropogenic and seasonal variables. Results Wild dogs proactively reduced movement in areas with high lion density, but reactively increased movement when lions were immediately nearby. Predictors of prey density had consistently weaker effects on movement than lions did, but movements were reduced in the wet season and when dependent offspring were present. Conclusion Wild dogs alter their patterns of movement in response to lions in ways that are likely to have important energetic consequences. Our results support the recent suggestion that competitive limitation of wild dogs by lions remains strong in ecosystems where lion and wild dog densities are both low as a result of anthropogenic prey depletion. Our results reinforce an emerging pattern that movements often show contrasting responses to long-term and short-term variation in predation risk.


Competition; Brownian bridge movement model; Prey depletion; African wild dog; Lion; Kafue National Park

Published in

Movement Ecology
2022, Volume: 10, number: 1, article number: 16
Publisher: BMC

    SLU Authors

    UKÄ Subject classification


    Publication Identifiers


    Permanent link to this page (URI)