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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 38(3)

Rock hyrax (Procavia capensis) den site selection: preference for artificial sites

Arik Kershenbaum A C , Anne Kershenbaum B and Leon Blaustein A

A Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology and the Institute of Evolution, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Haifa, Haifa 31905, Israel.
B Department of Community Medicine and Epidemiology, Carmel Medical Center and B. Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Haifa 34362, Israel.
C Corresponding author. Email: arik.kershenbaum@gmail.com

Wildlife Research 38(3) 244-248 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WR10228
Submitted: 9 December 2010  Accepted: 26 April 2011   Published: 13 July 2011

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Context: Objective assessments of habitat requirements for endangered species are often lacking when planning management strategies, and inappropriate landscape manipulation can sometimes turn an endangered species into a pest. Recent expansive population growth of the rock hyrax Procavia capensis in northern Israel has been attributed largely to the proliferation of man-made boulder piles on the fringes of new residential developments.

Aims: The hyrax is a protected species, but when in proximity to residential areas it can be a garden pest and is medically important as a reservoir of cutaneous leishmaniasis. Management should thus consider preservation of hyrax populations in combination with minimising pest potential. We examined the hypothesis that hyraxes prefer artificial boulder piles to natural outcrop crevices as den sites.

Methods: We surveyed all 57 potential den sites in a 1 × 1 km area around a village in northern Israel, and conducted logistic regression to examine the correlation of hyrax presence with site type (pile or crevice), size, distance from the village, distance from other den sites and network centrality within the den site network. We used the Aikaike information criterion (AIC) to compare logistic models.

Key results: Occupancy was well predicted by site type, site size, and distance from other sites, explaining 59% of the variation in the logistic regression. These three predictors were selected both by considering the combination of predictors that gave the lowest AIC value, and also by the stepwise logistic algorithm.

Conclusions and implications: Hyrax den site preference, and in particular preference for boulder piles over natural crevices, should be integrated into managing this species simultaneously for conservation and pest control in the face of continuing residential encroachment on natural areas.

Additional keywords: anthropogenic landscape changes, habitat selection.


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