Space use, interaction and recursion in a solitary specialized herbivore: a red panda case study.

February 24, 2022

Bista, D., Baxter, G. S., Hudson, N. J., Lama, S. T., Weerman, J., & Murray, P. J.

Endangered Species Research.

24 February 2021

Better understanding of ecology is crucial for the success of an endangered species conservation program. There is little information available on space use, conspecific interactions and recursions by one such species, the red panda Ailurus fulgens. To address this deficiency we used GPS telemetry to examine their home range, core area, home-range overlap, dynamic interactions, and recursive movement, and investigated the effect of sex, age, and body mass on these behaviours across seasons. The median annual home range was 1.41 with nearly a quarter of this range being used as the core area. Sex and reproductive status were the key determinants of space use patterns on a seasonal scale, while body mass and age remained significant correlates for the core area. The home range of males was nearly double that of females, likely because of the polygynous mating system in red pandas. Females avoided overlapping home ranges while males overlapped home range with up to four females, and neighbouring males overlapped nearly half of their ranges. We found rare interactions between males and females outside the mating season. Red pandas showed site fidelity within their territory with seasonal variation across sex classes. We also observed high individual variation in patterns of both space use and recursion. Taken together, these results suggest that differences in biological requirements across seasons determine red panda space use patterns, conspecific interactions and recursion. But forage availability and quality, climatic factors, disturbances and habitat fragmentation are also likely to influence these behaviours, and these need to be investigated.