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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Seasonal variation in daily activity patterns of snow leopards and their prey

Johansson, Örjan; Mishra, Charudutt; Chapron, Guillaume; Samelius, Gustaf; Lkhagvajav, Purevjav; McCarthy, Tom; Low, Matthew


The daily and seasonal activity patterns of snow leopards (Panthera uncia) are poorly understood, limiting our ecological understanding and hampering our ability to mitigate threats such as climate change and retaliatory killing in response to livestock predation. We fitted GPS-collars with activity loggers to snow leopards, Siberian ibex (Capra sibirica: their main prey), and domestic goats (Capra hircus: common livestock prey) in Mongolia between 2009 and 2020. Snow leopards were facultatively nocturnal with season-specific crepuscular activity peaks: seasonal activity shifted towards night-sunrise during summer, and day-sunset in winter. Snow leopard activity was in contrast to their prey, which were consistently diurnal. We interpret these results in relation to: (1) darkness as concealment for snow leopards when stalking in an open landscape (nocturnal activity), (2) low-intermediate light preferred for predatory ambush in steep rocky terrain (dawn and dusk activity), and (3) seasonal activity adjustments to facilitate thermoregulation in an extreme environment. These patterns suggest that to minimise human-wildlife conflict, livestock should be corralled at night and dawn in summer, and dusk in winter. It is likely that climate change will intensify seasonal effects on the snow leopard's daily temporal niche for thermoregulation in the future.

Published in

Scientific Reports
2022, volume: 12, number: 1, article number: 21681

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Snow Leopard Trust
Mishra, Charudutt
Snow Leopard Trust
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Snow Leopard Trust
Lkhagvajav, Purevjav
Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation (SLCF)
McCarthy, Tom
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology

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