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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 38:159-170 (2019)  -  DOI:

Hartmann’s mountain zebra resource selection and movement behavior within a large unprotected landscape in northwest Namibia

Jeff R. Muntifering1,*, Mark A. Ditmer1,2, Seth Stapleton1,2, Robin Naidoo3, Tara H. Harris1,2

1Conservation Department, Minnesota Zoo, 13000 Zoo Boulevard, Apple Valley, MN 55124, USA
2Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA
3World Wildlife Fund, 1250 24th Street NW, Washington, DC 20090, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Expanding human populations, combined with an increasingly variable climate, present challenges to the conservation of wide-ranging wildlife species, particularly for populations that persist in human-dominated landscapes. Although the movements and space use of many equid species have been well studied, comparable research of the Hartmann’s mountain zebra (HMZ) Equus zebra hartmannae, which primarily inhabits communal and commercial farming areas of Namibia, has been scarce and may limit conservation effectiveness. Here, we investigated the environmental and anthropogenic factors influencing HMZ movements and resource use across a large area of their range in northwestern Namibia. We deployed 6 GPS collars on HMZ during 2011 to 2013 and used integrated step selection functions to quantify HMZ movements and space use. HMZ movements averaged ~5 km d-1, and mean seasonal home range sizes were 681 and 256 km2 in the wet and dry season, respectively. HMZ selected for areas with high normalized difference vegetation index values (used as a proxy for primary production), particularly during the dry season, while avoiding areas further from water and closer to human settlements, although the effect was less apparent during the rainy season. Movement rates increased when HMZ crossed roads and were closer to roadways, but rates were not impacted by proximity to human activities. These results provide insights toward mitigating human-HMZ conflict. We highlight the difficulty a changing and less predictable climate creates for grazing species living in arid regions, as they must expend more energy and navigate dangers of a growing human footprint to seek out valuable but ephemeral forage.

KEY WORDS: Hartmann’s mountain zebra · Habitat · Resource selection · Integrated step selection function · Movement · Seasonality · Namibia

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Cite this article as: Muntifering JR, Ditmer MA, Stapleton S, Naidoo R, Harris TH (2019) Hartmann’s mountain zebra resource selection and movement behavior within a large unprotected landscape in northwest Namibia. Endang Species Res 38:159-170.

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