Large carnivores range more widely than many other terrestrial mammals, and this behavior tends to bring them into frequent conflict with humans. Within any carnivore population, individual variation in patterns of space use should be expected to make some animals more vulnerable than others to risks of mortality from humans and other sources. In this study, our goal was to document variation among individuals in space use by female spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta). We examined predictions of hypotheses suggesting that space use by female hyenas is affected by reproductive state, social rank, and local prey abundance. Home-range size, distance at which females were found from the current communal den, and distance at which they were found from the nearest territorial boundary all varied significantly with the 3 independent variables. Females with den-dwelling cubs had smaller home ranges, were found closer to the communal den, and were found farther from the territorial boundary than were females with no den-dwelling cubs. Neither social rank nor prey availability significantly influenced the space-use patterns of females with den-dwelling cubs. Among females with no den-dwelling cubs, high-ranking females had smaller home ranges, were closer to the communal den, and were farther from the territorial boundary than were low-ranking females. The females ranging most widely were low-ranking individuals with no den-dwelling cubs when they were observed during periods of prey scarcity.
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Individual variation in space use by female spotted hyenas