Space-use patterns of Malay civets (Viverra tangalunga) persisting within a landscape fragmented by oil palm plantations

Meaghan N. Evans, Carsten T. Müller, Peter Kille, Gregory P. Asner, Sergio Guerrero-Sanchez, Mohd Soffian Abu Bakar, Benoit Goossens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Context: Agricultural land use is expanding and is a major driver of the biodiversity crisis. Land use planning initiatives seeking to optimize wildlife conservation are hindered by a lack of baseline data quantifying species’ tolerance to human-modified landscapes. Objectives: We explored the influence of landscape characteristics on the fine-scale space-use patterns of a model generalist carnivore, the Malay civet (Viverra tangalunga), within degraded tropical forests and oil palm plantations. Methods: We collected over 20,000 GPS locations from 21 male civets in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo to evaluate the species’ space-use patterns and habitat utilization processes. We used movement-based modeling to determine home ranges, and combined the results with high-resolution remotely sensed habitat characteristics. We developed resource utilization functions to determine individual and population-level functional responses to proximity to plantation edge, distance to water, terrain ruggedness, forest structure, and functional diversity. Results: Civets foraged within oil palm plantations, yet all animals utilized forests. Home ranges scaled with proportion of plantation within both total and core ranges. Resource utilization functions reported individualism in the species’ responses to habitat characteristics. At the population-scale, civets consistently and more intensely used habitats closer to plantation edges and taller tree canopies. Conclusions: Although plantations did not pose an inhospitable matrix, oil palm agriculture is a less suitable habitat than remnant forests for civets. Proximity measures and forest structure influenced the spatial behaviors of this adaptable generalist, highlighting the importance of protected areas. We recommend land-sparing and -sharing approaches to facilitate carnivore persistence across oil palm degraded landscapes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)915-930
Number of pages16
JournalLandscape Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Agriculture
  • Home range
  • Landscape fragmentation
  • Malay civet
  • Oil palm plantation
  • Resource utilization function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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