Margaret Kinnaird, Ph.D.
Director, Mpala Research Centre
Location: Mapala Research Center, Laikipia Plateau, Kenya
Research: Carnivore Communities in Human-Dominated Landscapes
Species/Topic: Carnivore communities
Abstract: We propose to examine the interactions among carnivores and how these interactions are affected by land use across the 9,000 km2 Laikipia plateau, Kenya, a mosaic of Maasai group ranches, commercial ranches, and wildlife conservancies. Laikipia supports the second largest wildlife assemblage in Kenya, including > 25 carnivore species. We will sample carnivores using camera traps and apply multi-species interaction models to examine carnivore community structure under different land use patterns (intensive, moderate and no livestock). We predict that as land use shifts from wildlife conservancy to intensive ranching: (1) carnivore communities become less diverse and abundant; (2) smaller predators dominate; (3) predation on sheep and goats by smaller carnivores increases. The project will improve our understanding of carnivores outside protected areas, human-carnivore conflict, and effects of changing land use on carnivores as people intensify livestock operations to maintain profits in a declining economic climate.