Date of Award

Winter 12-18-2020

Semester of Degree

December

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

M.S. in Environmental and Forest Biology

Department

Environmental and Forest Biology

Major Professor

Jacqueline Frair

Steering Committee Member

Jonathan Cohen

Steering Committee Member

Mark Hebblewhite

Steering Committee Member

Brian Gerber

Steering Committee Member

Dale Miquelle

Abstract

In Russia, long-term conservation interventions have bolstered the critically endangered Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) as well as their dominant competitor, the endangered Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica). Within the Land of the Leopard National Park, I investigated the potential for tigers to displace or suppress leopards. I used data from winter track surveys to fit resource selection functions and camera trap surveys to both fit spatially-explicit capture-recapture models and document leopard productivity. I found no evidence of habitat displacement or numerical limitation of leopards by tigers in this region. Leopards resource selection was defined by landscape features and density was explained by the putative availability of sika deer rather than competition from tigers. Lastly, the number of observed leopard litters of all ages increased positively with local tiger density. This research lays an important foundation for conservation actions that prioritize minimizing human impacts on both felids rather than limiting tigers to benefit leopards.

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