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Keywords:

  • camera trap;
  • carnivore;
  • circular data;
  • kernel density estimation;
  • overlap coefficient;
  • trigonometric sum distribution

Abstract

Little is known about interactions between the critically endangered Sumatran tiger Panthera tigris sumatrae and its prey because of the difficulties associated with detecting these species. In this study, we quantify temporal overlap between the Sumatran tiger and five of its presumed prey species from four study areas comprising disturbed lowland to primary submontane forest. Data from 126 camera traps over 8984 camera days were used to estimate species activity patterns and, in turn, their overlap through the coefficient Δ (ranging from 0 to 1, i.e. no overlap to complete overlap). A newly developed statistical technique was applied to determine confidence intervals associated with respective overlap, which is important, as such measures of precision are usually not estimated in these types of study. Strong temporal overlap was found between tiger and muntjac Muntiacus muntjac (Δ=0.80, 95%CI=0.71–0.84) and tiger and sambar Cervus unicolor (Δ=0.81, 0.55–0.85), with the latter illustrating the importance of measuring precision. According to the foraging theory, Sumatran tigers should focus on expending lower levels of energy searching for and then capturing larger bodied prey that present the least risk. Hence, surprisingly, there was little overlap between the crepuscular tiger and the largest-bodied prey species available, the nocturnal tapir Tapirus indicus (0.52, 0.44–0.60), suggesting that it is not a principal prey species. This study provides the first insights into Sumatran tiger–prey temporal interactions. The ability to estimate overlap statistics with measures of precision has obvious and wide benefits for other predator–prey and interspecific competition studies.