Biodiversity Science (生物多样性) 2014/22:6 PP.746-751
There are great knowledge gaps concerning the population dynamics and behavioral ecology of wild camels. This study focused on grouping behaviors of camels (Camelus ferus) through the use of continuous camera trapping at 11 water source sites and eight field surveys conducted in the Kumtag Desert to evaluate seasonal variation in grouping behavior. We recorded 430 individual wild camels in a total of 64 groups. The largest group contained 71 individuals, the smallest group 1. The average group size was 10.74 during the breeding season, and 2.94 during the non-breeding season. Our data on seasonal grouping of camels, including average and maximum group size, supported the idea that wild camels live in open fission fusion groups, which tend to concentrate during the winter rutting season. At these 11 water source sites, 281 groups were recorded over the course of one year. Though no difference in average group size was detected between seasons in the camera trap data, both camera trap and field survey data supported the hypothesis that maximum group size was larger in the breeding season than in the non-breeding season. Group size was larger on the northern slope of the Altun Mountains than at Xihu wetland. Topography of the water source sites, the camera angle view, and the monitoring duration of cameras could all lead to an underestimate of wild camel group size. Even considering the limitations of our study, camera traps provide a new method and insights compared with traditional field surveys, and they are more economical and practical as well.
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