Moon phase and season alter road use by lions


Roads within protected areas facilitate management and tourism but can also alter animal movements and foraging opportunities. Animal tracks observed along roads are also used to index species distributions and abundance. We investigated the influence of roads on lion (Panthera leo) movements within the Serengeti ecosystem of Tanzania. We used hourly locations from 18 GPS-collared lions to quantify the influence of temporal periodicity (diel, lunar, and seasonal) and land covers on lion road use and road crossing frequency during 2018–2019. Lion road use and crossings did not differ between day and night but varied up to 63% across lunar illumination and 82% between seasons. Greater lion road use and road crossing incidents observed during the dry season and greater lunar illumination can be attributed to reduced foraging because lion prey are less common during the dry season and acquired at a lower success rate during periods of greater lunar illumination. As lion road use varied between seasons and across lunar phases, we recommend consideration of these variations when indexing lion populations using data derived from track surveys that use roads as transects. Read the full article here.


Stanslaus B. Mwampeta

Lusato M. Masinde

Peter S. Ranke

Eivin Røskaft

Robert Fyumagwa

Jerrold L. Belant.