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Riparian vegetation structure and the hunting behavior of adult estuarine crocodiles

Evans, Luke ORCID:, Davies, Andrew B., Goossens, Benoit ORCID: and Asner, Gregory P. 2017. Riparian vegetation structure and the hunting behavior of adult estuarine crocodiles. PLoS ONE 12 (10) , e0184804. 10.1371/journal.pone.0184804

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Riparian ecosystems are amongst the most biodiverse tropical habitats. They are important, and essential, ecological corridors, linking remnant forest fragments. In this study, we hypothesised that crocodile’s actively select nocturnal resting locations based on increased macaque predation potential. We examined the importance of riparian vegetation structure in the maintenance of crocodile hunting behaviours. Using airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and GPS telemetry on animal movement, we identified the repeated use of nocturnal resting sites by adult estuarine crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) throughout the fragmented Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary in Sabah, Malaysia. Crocodile resting locations were found to resemble, in terms of habitat characteristics, the sleeping sites of long-tailed macaque; positioned in an attempt to avoid predation by terrestrial predators. We found individual crocodiles were actively selecting overhanging vegetation and that the protrusion of trees from the tree line was key to site selection by crocodiles, as well as influencing both the presence and group size of sleeping macaques. Although these findings are correlational, they have broad management implications, with the suggestion that riparian corridor maintenance and quality can have implications beyond that of terrestrial fauna. We further place our findings in the context of the wider ecosystem and the maintenance of trophic interactions, and discuss how future habitat management has the potential to mitigate human-wildlife conflict.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: Public Library of Science
ISSN: 1932-6203
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 October 2017
Date of Acceptance: 31 August 2017
Last Modified: 10 May 2023 01:00

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