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Interference competition and temporal niche shifts: elephants and herbivore communities at waterholes

Abstract : Scarcity of resources may result in high levels of animal aggregation; interference competition can occur in such a scenario and play a role in resource acquisition. Here, we test the hypothesis that animals could minimize interference competition by shifting their temporal niches in relation to competitors. In Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, we monitored waterholes in order to study agonistic interactions between elephants and other herbivore species. We also used a long-term data set from a yearly survey of waterhole attendance by herbivores to evaluate the influence of the presence of elephants on the use of waterholes by other herbivore species. Our results show that in drier years, waterholes are crowded with elephants early in the afternoon. In general, the species most affected by interference competition with elephants shift their temporal niches at the waterholes, thus maintaining a constant temporal overlap with elephants. The species less affected by interference competition with elephants show no temporal niche shifts and increase their temporal overlaps with elephants at waterholes, as predicted from a noncompetition hypothesis. This study provides evidence that interference competition with a behaviorally dominant large species influences the temporal niches of smaller species, and suggests that the potential costs associated with interference between elephants and other herbivores at waterholes are linked to shifts in diurnal activities rather than interactions and water acquisition itself.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00184052
Contributor : Delphine Bonnet <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, October 30, 2007 - 2:06:36 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, July 21, 2021 - 3:49:50 AM

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Marion Valeix, Simon Chamaillé-Jammes, Hervé Fritz. Interference competition and temporal niche shifts: elephants and herbivore communities at waterholes. Oecologia, Springer Verlag, 2007, 153 (3), pp.739-748. ⟨10.1007/s00442-007-0764-5⟩. ⟨hal-00184052⟩

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