Spatiotemporal interactions of Amur tigers with prey and humans in Northeast China
This research focused on the interactions between tigers and two important factors－prey and human disturbance in spatial and temporal dimensions for the development of appropriate conservation strategies. A camera-trap network with total 83 camera grids of 3.6 x 3.6 km was established in the Hunchun National Nature Reserve (HNNR) in April of 2013. The relative abundance indexes (RAI) were calculated in three function zones and compared by Mann-Whitney U tests. The kernel density estimation was used to estimate the daily activities of tigers, prey and human disturbance for analyzing the temporal overlapping patterns.
Results/Conclusions The spatial analysis indicated that tigers and sika deer (Cervus nippon) were mainly restricted to the core zone of HNNR and that their abundance was lower in the community-based natural resource management zone. In comparison, RAIs of Siberian roe deer (Capreolus pygargus) tended to be more abundant in the northern section and wild boar (Sus scrofa) RAI was lower in the core zone. Frequent disturbance from human activities and livestock grazing happened throughout the core zone. The temporal overlapping probabilities of Amur tiger and sika deer was highest (74%), followed by tiger and wild boar, tiger and livestock, tiger and roe deer, and tiger and human activities with 68%, 66%, 65% and 31%.
In conclusion, sika deer showed higher overlapping levels with tigers in patterns of space-time, which indicated sika deer are the main ungulate prey for tigers in China. In contrast, through both tigers and human activities occurred frequently in the core zone, activity peaks were stagger in temporal dimension. It is possible that human disturb habitat but tigers and human coexist by temporal avoidance. Therefore, we strongly recommended strengthening habitat management and protection, improving recovering large-size prey populations and reducing human disturbance.