Understanding the causes and consequences of animal movement, space use and habitat selection, including distribution modelling are other research interests of mine. There is obvious overlap with my interests in dispersal and connectivity modelling, and this separation of themes is somewhat arbitrary.
I carried out my first significant field-based research for my MSc at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland in the framework of an international wild boar Sus scrofa management project at the French-Swiss border in the Geneva Basin, under the scientific supervision of Claude Fischer and Eric Baubet. One of the questions I addressed in my thesis was the effect of crop fencing and dissuasive feeding on wild boar space use and habitat selection patterns using telemetry data. I got involved with this wild boar project again during my first post-doc at UKZN, and analysed the entire 6-year telemetry dataset to understand drivers of wild boar space use under contrasting management regimes in a fragmented landscape. During the same time, I collaborated with Kevin Morelle on one of his PhD papers on modelling wild boar expansion into agro-ecosystems in Belgium.
For my PhD I collected leopard Panthera pardus telemetry data for two and half years in the field. Following conservation interventions implemented in 2005 in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa the leopard population density increased on Phinda Game Reserve. I tested how this possibly affected the social organisation patterns of adults. Analysing an 11-year telemetry dataset, I demonstrated that as leopard density increased, female home range size and inter-annual fidelity in home range use decreased, and females formed matrilineal kin clusters. In contrast, males maintained large home ranges, and did not track female home range contraction. Spacing dynamics in adult leopards was consistent with sex-specific dispersal strategies (more on this under the Dispersal tab).