The value of indigenous range data for an invasive species, the crested porcupine (Hystrix cristata)
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Faculty of Science of Tunis, Research Laboratory of Biodiversity, Management and Conservation of Biological Systems, University of Tunis El Manar, El Manar II, 2092 Tunis, Tunisia
Marwell Wildlife, Colden Common, Winchester, SO21 1JH, UK
Biological Sciences, Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
Faculty of science of Tunis
Online publication date: 2023-08-07
Publication date: 2023-08-07
Corresponding author
Mohamed Khalil Meliane   

Marwell Wildlife
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 2023;34(2):137-139
The crested porcupine is an invasive species in Italy with a growing population and an expanding range. Whilst the species is mainly nocturnal, it has been observed diurnally throughout the year in Italian habitats. Research has attributed these observations to foraging requirements in daylight hours especially in periods when nights are shorter and primary production is more limited. This implied that crested porcupines are under trophic and physiological stress in Italy, which contradicts with their observed demographic and spatial expansion. Here we use data collected over 30,765 camera days by camera-trap grids within the species’ indigenous range in two Tunisian semi-arid national parks where primary productivity is limited. We postulated that if the foraging hypothesis was accurate, we would record diurnal activity of crested porcupines in our resource-scarce study sites as the species increases active foraging hours to fulfil its trophic requirements. Analyses however revealed exclusively nocturnal activity patterns in the studied sites in Tunisia, thus contrasting with the foraging hypothesis. Our results indicate that the species is not under stress in Italian ecosystems and diurnal mobility is likely limited to basking, grooming, etc. in the near vicinity of burrow entrances.
We would like to acknowledge the long-term research and conservation partnership between Marwell Wildlife and the Direction Générale des Forêts (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources, Tunisia) and in particular Mr. Mohamed Boufaroua, Mr. Ezzedine Taghouti and Mrs. Hela Guedara who made this work possible. Thanks also go to Mr. Saad Rejili, Mr. Amara Derbel, Mr. Mohamed Ali Tradi and Boudhief Yahyaoui for their important contributions to data collection, to Mr. Mounir Jouili and Mr. Chokri Aissaoui managers of Sidi Toui and Dghoumes National Parks and to Mr. Noureddine Hasnaoui and Mr. Mohamed Dabbebi heads of the respective forest districts for their assistance in permitting and facilitating fieldwork.
This work was funded by Marwell Wildlife, Dublin Zoo, Safari Parc Monde Sauvage, Parco Faunistico Le Cornelle, Wrocław Zoo Foundation DODO, ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo, and Branféré Parc Animalier et Botanique.
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