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The ecology and biology of the Mountain Gazelle (Gazella gazella gazella) in Ramat Hanadiv

This work presents the findings of an ecological and biological study of the local population of Mountain Gazelle, conducted as part of a comprehensive research project carried out in the region in relation to the development of a natural park in Ramat Hanadiv. The maximum number of gazelles counted in the research area (about 2.0 km²) was 35. The average number of gazelles for one sampling day was 20.0 (n=15). The maximum population density was 10.7 gazelles/ km² but it fluctuated considerably between seasons. Six habitats were defined in Ramat Hanadiv: dwarf shrubs with grasses, open low shrubland, garrigue, dense scrubland, open scrubland and mature cypress grove. The population density of gazelles at the different habitats was studied by two methods: direct observations and fecal group count. The data collected by each of the methods was statistically analyzed (Duncan's Multiple Range Test). It was found that the actual gazelle density in natural dense scrubland (as calculated from fecal density) is significantly higher then the density directly observed. The partly open and open habitats show medium to high density (up to 30 animals/ km²) whereas the cypress grove shows low density (only 2 gazelles/ km²) using any of the two methods. The average demographic structure of the local gazelle population was: 9.98 adult males, 6.63 young males (6-13 months) and 2.24 fawns per 10 adult females. Young fawns have been observed during the entire year with seasonal highs at the end of spring and beginning of summer.
During 1988,4 out of 11 mortality cases were due to car collisions. The causes in the other cases were not clearly determined but there is a likely probability of predation by dogs. All three social units comprising natural gazelle populations: female groups, bachelor groups and solitary territorial males were identified in Ramat Hanadiv. Detailed observations on representing groups of each of these units were conducted.
It was observed that the daily activity of the gazelle begins early in the morning (apparently before dawn), especially in the summer, and reaches its morning peak at about 9:00 A.M. The correlation between activity time and season was established (Figures 6A and 6B). it was also found that winter activity was less static than summer activity and that the frequency of reproduction related activity was higher in the winter then in the summer. Although the mountain gazelle is mainly a grazing animal it also browses considerably. The composition of the gazelles diet is strongly affected by food availability and quality, both changing with seasons. 
Among those factors studied, the most significant in determining the distribution of gazelles (Table 10) were the height of woody vegetation and the distance from sources of disturbance caused by human activity. The amount of herbaceous vegetation and season of the year were found to be only partly significant.
 
 

 

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