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Coping with climate change: limited behavioral responses to hot weather in a tropical carnivore

Rabaiotti, D; Woodroffe, R; (2019) Coping with climate change: limited behavioral responses to hot weather in a tropical carnivore. Oecologia , 189 pp. 587-599. 10.1007/s00442-018-04329-1. Green open access

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Abstract

Climate change is widely accepted to be one of the greatest threats to species globally. Identifying the species most at risk is, therefore, a conservation priority. Some species have the capacity to adapt to rising temperatures through changing their phenology, behavior, distribution, or physiology, and, therefore, may be more likely to persist under rising temperatures. Recent findings suggest that the African wild dog Lycaon pictus may be impacted by climate change, since reproductive success is consistently lower when pup-rearing coincides with periods of high ambient temperature. We used GPS collars, combined with generalized linear mixed-effects models, to assess wild dogs’ potential to adapt to high ambient temperatures through flexible timing of hunting behavior. On days with higher maximum temperatures, wild dogs showed lower daytime activity and greater nocturnal activity, although nocturnal activity did not fully balance the decrease in daytime activity, particularly during the denning period. Increases in nocturnal activity were confined mainly to moonlit nights, and were seldom observed when packs were raising pups. Our findings suggest that nocturnal activity helps this cursorial hunter to cope with high daytime temperatures. However, wild dogs appear not to use this coping strategy when they are raising pups, suggesting that their resource needs may not be fulfilled during the pup-rearing period. Given that moonlight availability—which will not change as the climate changes—constrains wild dogs’ nocturnal activity, the species may have insufficient behavioral plasticity to mitigate increasing diurnal temperatures. These findings raise concerns about climate change impacts on this endangered species, and highlight the need for behavior to be considered when assessing species’ vulnerability to climate change.

Type: Article
Title: Coping with climate change: limited behavioral responses to hot weather in a tropical carnivore
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s00442-018-04329-1
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-018-04329-1
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2019. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Activity, Behavior, Plasticity, Lycaon pictus, Temperature
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10067607
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