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Craig D. Widdows

Bio: Craig D. Widdows is an academic researcher from University of KwaZulu-Natal. The author has contributed to research in topics: Genetta tigrina & Urban ecology. The author has an hindex of 4, co-authored 6 publications receiving 75 citations.

Papers
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors investigated the dietary composition of urban G. tigrina using scat analyses, and the influence of predictable supplementary feeding stations on their feeding behavior in the suburbs of Kloof/Hillcrest, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Abstract: Knowledge of an urban carnivore’s foraging behavior is vital to understanding its ecology. This is particularly important as urbanization continues to convert natural habitats into human-altered landscapes. Over the past few years there have been increasing reports of large spotted genets (Genetta tigrina) foraging within suburbs of towns and cities in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Consequently, we investigated the dietary composition of urban G. tigrina using scat analyses, and the influence of predictable supplementary feeding stations on their feeding behavior in the suburbs of Kloof/Hillcrest, KwaZulu-Natal. Prey items with the highest relative frequency of occurrence were invertebrates (42.5 %). In particular, their scats found in anthropogenic structures such as roofs and out buildings were dominated by cockroaches (Blattodea). Small mammals also formed an important component of the diet. Significant seasonal variation in diet was recorded. The highest recorded relative frequency of occurrence of reptiles in scats was during spring (8.6 %). The highest recorded relative frequency of occurrence of anthropogenic refuse in the scats was in winter (12.7 %) with pieces of plastic, elastic bands and cardboard present in the scats. Uncommon genet behavior recorded at artificial feeding stations included diurnal feeding patterns and multiple individuals feeding with no signs of aggression. The presence of pet food, invertebrates associated with anthropogenic structures, and anthropogenic pollution/waste in the diet of urban genets, as well as their ability to use supplemental feeding stations highlights their adaptability to make use of temporally or locally available food resources within the urban environment.

30 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors investigated the relationship between occurrence patterns of large spotted genets (Genetta tigrina) with various environmental variables believed to influence their detection and site occupancy in an urban environment.
Abstract: Aspects influencing the distribution patterns of mammals are particularly important for species living in human altered landscapes. The current study investigated the relationship between occurrence patterns of large spotted genets (Genetta tigrina) with various environmental variables believed to influence their detection and site occupancy in an urban environment. Presence/absence data was collected from 28 camera trap stations between June 2012 and October 2013 in Kloof/Hillcrest suburbs, Durban, South Africa. Average estimated occupancy of G. tigrina was 0.62 ± 0.14 with a detection probability 0.19 ± 0.03. The naive occupancy was 0.607. Model selection indicated that bush cover and placement of camera traps on wide paths negatively influenced G. tigrina occupancy. Both winter and fringe habitats influenced the site occupancy of G. tigrina positively. Furthermore, bush cover was negatively associated with detection probability of G. tigrina. The current camera surveys provided baseline data for long-term species observations within suburban Kloof/Hillcrest. The present study indicated the importance of a variety of factors on the distribution of G. tigrina, particularly in landscapes where natural habitats are threatened with changing land use and increasing human populations.

28 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The importance of anthropogenic structures as daytime roosts for large-spotted genets within an urban mosaic is highlighted resulting in plasticity of breeding behaviour and a switch to producing young in cooler months.

18 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors in this article investigated the distribution of large-spotted genets (Genetta tigrina) within the urban environment of the greater Durban district, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and investigate their reported use of anthropogenic structures for resting, breeding and foraging.
Abstract: The global increase in urbanization has resulted in exclusion of many carnivore species from human-altered landscapes due to a variety of anthropogenic impacts. However, despite the negative impacts of urbanization on carnivores, certain species exhibit an ability to survive within urban areas. The aim of the study was to solicit community-based information, using a questionnaire mainly, to investigate the distribution of Large-spotted Genets (Genetta tigrina) within the urban environment of the greater Durban district, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and investigate their reported use of anthropogenic structures for resting, breeding and foraging. The study was also designed to determine possible areas of conflict, habitat use and residents’ attitudes towards G. tigrina. Consequently, interviews were conducted in the suburbs of Kloof and Hillcrest, KwaZulu-Natal to establish information pertaining to genet behaviour, land-use, potential wildlife conflicts and public perceptions with their presence in urban areas. Walking between areas (during foraging bouts or between roost sites) was the main activity observed. Domestic pet food was the main food item genets were observed eating. The most cited cause of genet fatalities were attacks by domestic dogs and collisions with vehicles. Genets were reported using roof spaces for resting during daylight hours and for breeding. Respondents reported providing supplementary food such as meat, chicken and pet food to urban genets. The majority of respondents expressed positive attitudes towards genets in urban Kloof. Negative views stemmed from concerns of disease transfer (RABV) and impacts on wild bird populations. This study illustrated the adaptability of genets to live in urban areas and their ability to utilise anthropogenic resources. Furthermore, the study identified various potential threats to genets in an urban environment.

13 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This paper reviewed case studies of vertebrate species' responses to urbanisation in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, to determine trends and presented a novel modification to the final of three phases of the framework described by Evans et al. (2010).
Abstract: Urbanisation is rapidly transforming natural landscapes with consequences for biodiversity. Little is documented on the response of African wildlife to urbanisation. We reviewed case studies of vertebrate species' responses to urbanisation in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa to determine trends. Connected habitat mosaics of natural and anthropogenic green spaces are critical for urban wildlife persistence. We present a novel modification to the final of three phases of the framework described by Evans et al. (2010), which documents this sequence for vertebrate species persistence, based on the perspective of our research. Species in suburbia exhibit an initial phase where behavioural and ecological flexibility, life-history traits and phenotypic plasticity either contribute to their success, or they stay at low numbers. Where successful, the next phase is a rapid increase in populations and distribution; anthropogenic food resources and alternate breeding sites are effectively exploited. The modified third phase either continues to spread, plateau or decline.

12 citations


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TL;DR: It is concluded that, in the context of urban planning, it is important to conserve large green spaces that include a high diversity of habitats to maintain high species richness in urban green spaces.
Abstract: Urban green spaces provide habitat for numerous plant and animal species. However, currently we have little knowledge on which determinants drive the species richness within and across taxonomic groups. In this paper we investigate the determinants of total, native, and endangered species richness for vascular plants, birds, and mammals within and across taxonomic groups. We examined a stratified random sample of 32 urban green spaces in Hannover, Germany. Species inventories for plants and birds were generated on the basis of line transect surveys. Mammals were surveyed by means of point counts using camera traps. Using a principal component analysis and multiple regression models, we tested 10 explanatory variables for species-area effects, distance effects, and the effects of habitat structure of green spaces on species richness. When analyzing single explanatory variables, we determined that the species richness of all groups was significantly positively correlated to patch area, number of habitat types, and a short distance to the nearest green space. Testing combined effects of variables showed that patch area in combination with habitat heterogeneity was most important for plants (total, native, and endangered), birds (total and native), and overall species richness. This emphasizes the importance of the species-area effect and the effects of habitat structure on species richness in urban green spaces. We conclude that, in the context of urban planning, it is important to conserve large green spaces that include a high diversity of habitats to maintain high species richness.

53 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors investigated the influence of microhabitat complexity on mammal communities within forest and dense bush habitats, using occupancy modelling, and found vertical stratification gradients as observed in studies of tropical forest chronosequence, i.e. increased foliage density in lower habitat layers and decreased foliage density at higher habitat layers for dense bush, and vice versa for forest.
Abstract: The Indian Ocean Coastal Belt (IOCB) of South Africa is a natural forest-grassland mosaic, nested within an anthropogenic, mixed land-use matrix. Given the ongoing threat of agricultural expansion and urbanisation, we assessed the value of a buffer habitat (Coastal dense bush) for conserving forest species. We investigated the influence of microhabitat complexity on mammal communities within forest and dense bush habitats, using occupancy modelling. We found vertical stratification gradients as observed in studies of tropical forest chronosequence, i.e. increased foliage density in lower habitat layers and decreased foliage density in higher habitat layers for dense bush, and vice versa for forest. Structural composition suggests that dense bush is within a successional stage of secondary forest regeneration. Bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus) occupancy was higher in forest than dense bush, while the opposite was true for blue duiker (Philantomba monticola). Large-spotted genet (Genetta tigrina), Cape porcupine (Hystrix africaeaustralis) and marsh mongoose (Atilax paludinosus) occupancy remained constant between habitats. Grey duiker (Sylvicapra grimmia) occupancy varied greatly between dense bush (0.48 ± 0.01) and forest (0.16 ± 0.01). Dense bush appeared to maintain natural forest assemblages, and may play a crucial role in buffering IOCB forest patches, given their highly-restricted distribution. However, dense bush habitats have no protection status, but play a role in the conservation of forest plants and animals. Therefore, we advocate the inclusion of dense bush habitats in conservation networks focused on forests.

38 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors investigated the relationship between occurrence patterns of large spotted genets (Genetta tigrina) with various environmental variables believed to influence their detection and site occupancy in an urban environment.
Abstract: Aspects influencing the distribution patterns of mammals are particularly important for species living in human altered landscapes. The current study investigated the relationship between occurrence patterns of large spotted genets (Genetta tigrina) with various environmental variables believed to influence their detection and site occupancy in an urban environment. Presence/absence data was collected from 28 camera trap stations between June 2012 and October 2013 in Kloof/Hillcrest suburbs, Durban, South Africa. Average estimated occupancy of G. tigrina was 0.62 ± 0.14 with a detection probability 0.19 ± 0.03. The naive occupancy was 0.607. Model selection indicated that bush cover and placement of camera traps on wide paths negatively influenced G. tigrina occupancy. Both winter and fringe habitats influenced the site occupancy of G. tigrina positively. Furthermore, bush cover was negatively associated with detection probability of G. tigrina. The current camera surveys provided baseline data for long-term species observations within suburban Kloof/Hillcrest. The present study indicated the importance of a variety of factors on the distribution of G. tigrina, particularly in landscapes where natural habitats are threatened with changing land use and increasing human populations.

28 citations