Ecological correlates of lion social organization (Panthers, leo)



Data on lion home range size, pride size, density, group size, cub survival, litter size and adult sex ratio were extracted from studies carried out in 10 habitats. The data were compared with five measures of food supply: mean prey biomass, prey biomass during the season of greatest abundance, prey biomass during the season of least abundance, biomass of middle-sized prey species (i.e. those with mean adult live-weights between 50 and 250 kg), and the mean size of carcasses fed on by lions. The results indicated that range size is inversely correlated with the abundance of prey during the period of least abundance, but not with overall prey abundance. Range size showed no consistent variation with pride size or with minimum metabolic requirements. Pride size (measured in terms of average number of animals per pride and average number of adult females) and cub survival strongly correlated with lean season food abundance. No relationship was found between group size or litter size and any of the measures of food supply Adult sex ratio did not vary consistently with food supply or lion density, although the data did suggest that prides inhabiting small, circumscribed reserves may experience less inter-male competition and this, in turn, may affect the adult sex ratio.