Characterizing habitat choice is essential for endangered species conservation. For the endangered Grevy's zebra (Equus grevyi), as with many widely ranging vertebrates, human activities may be an important factor affecting space use. Grevy's zebras are grazing ungulates inhabiting the savannahs of central-northern Kenya and Ethiopia. Past research on their social organization indicates that reproductive status shapes associations and movements. Here, we examine how habitat use varies across four reproductive classes: lactating and nonlactating females, bachelors and territorial males. We also test whether Grevy's zebra avoid locations close to active livestock corrals, or bomas. We find that forage quality, forage quantity and habitat openness of locations used by Grevy's zebra vary significantly depending on individual reproductive state. Lactating females and bachelors use areas with green, short grass and medium-dense bush more frequently than nonlactating females or territorial males. We hypothesize that lactating females trade off forage quantity and safety to access nutrients in growing grass. Across reproductive classes, Grevy's zebra choose locations further from active bomas than if they used the area randomly. Our results suggest that Grevy's zebra may require a range of vegetation characteristics for different reproductive classes. Further, they may need areas free from competition or disturbance by livestock.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Endangered species
- Habitat use
- Range management