UDC 59.009; 502.74
Raimondi F., Sogliani D., Cimini M., Atzeni L., Augugliaro C. INTERFERENCE COMPETITION BETWEEN WILD AND DOMESTIC UNGULATES AT WATERING SITES OF GOBI DESERT, MONGOLIA // Arid Ecosystems. 2023. Vol. 29. № 3 (96). P. 81-91. | PDF
Desertification processes in Central Asia are largely dependent on soil degradation induced by excessive livestock grazing, besides climate changes. Desertification represents a threat to wildlife species living in arid environments, since reduced accessibility to water strongly affects their distribution and behaviour. Moreover, livestock presence exacerbates competition with wildlife for scarce water resources. Given their crucial importance to wildlife persistence, water sources in arid environments are critical to the study of wildlife behaviour and interspecific competition.
The Small Gobi A is one such environment of Mongolia, characterised by high grazing pressure despite low human presence. Between September and October 2017, we conducted camera trapping surveys at two waterholes identified as potential drinking sources for wildlife. We aimed to explore the spatio-temporal interactions among large domestic ungulates (e.g., Bactrian camel Camelus bactrianus), and wild ungulates (e.g., Asian wild ass Equus hemionus, and goitered gazelle Gazella subgutturosa), which are among the most iconic and threatened ungulates of Mongolia.
The results showed a complete spatial segregation between domestic and wild ungulates, and a high temporal segregation among wild ungulates. This study confirms spatial and temporal niche partitioning as a strategy adopted by wild species to reduce competition and allow species coexistence. We recommend enhanced management measures of free-roaming livestock to reduce the pressure on wild species at drinking sites.
Keywords: spatio-temporal overlap, water sources, arid ecosystems, Asiatic wild ass, Goitered gazelle, Gobi Desert.
Acknowledgements. We thank the government of Bayan Ovoo district for assisting us in the field. We thank the Small Gobi-A Special Protected Area administration, and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism for their support. We thank Mr. Batkhuyag (Wildlife Initiative) for his contribution to data collection. We are also grateful to the Department of Ecology and Evolution of the University of Lausanne that supplied some of the camera traps and to Munkhoyon Suvarga who provided funding.
Authors’ contribution. F. Raimondi and D. Sogliani equally participated in this study and wrote the first draft; D. Sogliani analyzed data and produced figures; M. Cimini conducted the GIS analysis and produced figures; C. Augugliaro conceived and supervised the research and acquired funding. C. Augugliaro and L. Atzeni revised and edited the first draft.