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Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät - Jahrgang 2011

 

Titel Ecology and population status of the Serval Leptailurus serval (SCHREBER, 1776) in Zambia
Autor Christine Thiel
Publikationsform Dissertation
Abstract Little is known about the Serval’s ecology, its needs and population status. This thesis is providing a new and detailed groundwork on this elusive felid species. The study was conducted between 2006 and 2008 in Zambia, with the focus area being Luambe National Park (LNP) in the Luangwa Valley.
Using transect line walking, signs of Serval presence (faeces, spoor and sightings) were recorded. Analyses of these records revealed new information on the diet, habitat preferences, the distribution within LNP, and parasite composition in faecal samples. The most studied fact on Servals found in literature is their diet, through scats analyses, observations and stomach analyses. Faeces analyses of this thesis supported the previous studies’ findings that the Leptailurus serval is a rodent hunter. But besides that, they also prey extensively on birds, on reptiles, and on arthropods. A diet breadth of 0.5 also indicates a more opportunistic lifestyle. People associate Servals with grasslands and wetlands, but this study proved the Servals to use also thickets and riverine woodland. This felid needs water resources nearby and a certain degree of cover, whether it is grass or thickets/bushes. Closed forests with little ground cover are less preferred or even avoided habitats. parasites of Servals were never analysed up to now. This analysis revealed Rhipicephalus sanguineus and Haemaphysalis leachi, both so-called ‘Dog Ticks’, to be the most common tick of Leptailurus serval.
Additionally, camera traps were set up to calculate the minimum population size of Leptailurus serval in LNP. In an area of 134 km2 composed of 30% potentially preferred habitat, this study found a density of 9.9 Servals per 100 km2. This study has been the first density estimation proved by the capture-recapture method with the usage of camera traps.
Zambia-wide collections of scat samples, observations and spoors completed the data to produce an overview of Zambian Serval populations. Zambian-wide distribution proclaimed by ANSELL (1978) was reviewed and most of the areas were confirmed. Distribution patterns of the different pelage morphs of Servals occurring in Zambia, following ANSELL (1978), were reviewed. His statement on the south-eastern boundary of the distribution of a small spotted morph could neither be proven nor rejected.
Also the first African-wide species distribution model for the Serval was created with the software MAXENT. The MAXENT model revealed good results and showed possible distribution areas mostly south of the Sahara, with hotspots in the highlands of Ethiopia, in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe, and at the South African coast line. On the basis of the newly gained knowledge on preferred and less preferred habitats the output map was overlaid and modified with land cover data, eco-region maps, areas of wilderness and areas of critical or endangered conservation status. If all these factors are taken into consideration, the potential Serval distribution area decreases, especially the areas of high probability are endangered and unsuitably influenced to provide good and stable Serval habitats.
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© Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn | Veröffentlicht: 15.07.2011