University Of Tasmania

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Estimating carnivoran diets using a combination of carcass observations and scats from GPS clusters

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 11:22 authored by Tambling, CJ, Laurence, SD, Bellan, SE, Elissa Cameron, du Toit, JT, Getz, WM
Scat analysis is one of the most frequently used methods to assess carnivoran diets, and global positioning system (GPS) cluster methods are increasingly being used to locate feeding sites for large carnivorans. However, both methods have inherent biases that limit their use. GPS methods to locate kill sites are biased towards large carcasses, while scat analysis overestimates the biomass consumed from smaller prey. We combined carcass observations and scats collected along known movement routes, assessed using GPS data from four African lion Panthera leo prides in the Kruger National Park, South Africa, to determine how a combination of these two datasets change diet estimates. As expected, using carcasses alone under- estimated the number of feeding events on small species, primarily impala Aepyceros melampus and warthog Phacochoerus africanus, in our case, by more than 50%, and thus significantly underestimated the biomass consumed per pride per day in comparison with when the diet was assessed using carcass observations alone. We show that an approach that supplements carcass observations with scats that enables the identification of potentially missed feeding events increases the estimates of food intake rates for large carnivorans, with possible ramifications for predator–prey interaction studies dealing with biomass intake rate.


Publication title

Journal of Zoology








School of Natural Sciences


Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Place of publication

9600 Garsington Rd, Oxford, OX4 2DQ, UK

Rights statement

Copyright 2011 Journal of Zoology.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Other environmental management not elsewhere classified