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Social organization of the Gunnison's prairie dog, Cynomys gunnisoni, was studied in two populations in south-central Colorado. Gunnison's prairie dogs live in complex, interactive societies fitting current definitions of highly social ground squirrels. Members of harems (‘coteries’) cooperatively use and defend a common territory. Spatial overlap is extensive between the adult male(s) and adult females, and among adult females within the harem through the active season. Amicable behavioral interactions are frequent within the harem, whereas interactions between members of different harems are primarily agonistic and spatial overlap is minimal. Although their behavioral repertoire is more limited, social organization...
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Whether or not a migratory songbird embarks on a long-distance flight across an ecological barrier is likely a response to a number of endogenous and exogenous factors. During autumn 2008 and 2009, we used automated radio tracking to investigate how energetic condition, age, and weather influenced the departure timing and direction of Swainson’s thrushes (Catharus ustulatus) during migratory stopover along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Most birds left within 1 h after sunset on the evening following capture. Those birds that departed later on the first night or remained longer than 1 day were lean. Birds that carried fat loads sufficient to cross the Gulf of Mexico generally departed in a seasonally...
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Howling is a principle means of spacing in wolf populations. The relationship between a pack's responses to howling (replies, movements) and its location within its home range, was studied using human-simulated howling in a territorial population in northeastern Minnesota. The results indicated the responses were independent of the pack's location, or the locations of the pack and playback relation to the territory center. These results indicate that howling serves as a territory-independent spacing mechanism, that will result in the use of exclusive territories when coupled with strong, year-round site attachment, but with floating, exclusive, buffer-areas about migratory packs.
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A laboratory study on the ontogeny of social behavior in pikas (Ochotona princeps), an alpine lagomorph, was conducted to determine the role of early relationships between adult females and young and among siblings in the development of territorial and dispersal behaviors. Sex differences during development were examined because field studies have reported greater dispersal distances in young females than young males. At birth, females were significantly heavier than males. There were no sex differences in nursing frequency until after the 2nd week of age, when males initiated more nursing attempts than females. By the end of the weaning period (weeks 5 and 6), adult females became non-interactive with young, but...
We studied patterns of paternity in 840 nestling bobolinks (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) from 191 pairbonded adults and the chicks they reared in west central New York, USA, during 19831986, using allozyme data (4 variable loci). Thirty-six (4.3%) nestlings exhibited genotypes that excluded a putative parent as a genetic parent. Using the method of Westneat et al. (1987) we estimated that 14.6% of the nestlings were sired by extrapair copulations and that 28% of the nests contained = 1 nestling resulting from extra-pair fertilizations (EPFs). Rates of EPFs did not appear to be related to population density among our bobolink populations. Younger males and older females were more likely to have young in their nests sired...
Summary We tested the hypothesis that the alpha and beta songs of male bobolinks (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) have separate intrasexual and intersexual functions by presenting caged males and caged females on the territories of male bobolinks. Although all males in our study population share both alpha and beta songs, we found no evidence for a specialized intersexual function of alpha song or a specialized intrasexual function of beta song. Territorial males increased their singing rate of both alpha and beta songs during both the male presentations and the female presentations. The proportions of the two song types did not change between control and experimental periods for either male or female presentations. We found...
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Microphallus papillorobustus is a manipulative trematode that induces strong behavioural alterations in the gamaridean amphipod Gammarus insensibilis, making the amphipod more vulnerable to predation by aquatic birds (definitive hosts). Conversely, the sympatric nematodeGammarinema gammari uses Gammarus insensibilis as a habitat and a source of nutrition. We investigated the conflict of interest between these two parasite species by studying the consequences of mixed infection on amphipod behaviour associated with the trematode. In the field, some amphipods infected by the trematode did not display the altered behaviour. These normal amphipods also had more nematodes, suggesting that the nematode overpowered the...
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For several species, refuges (such as burrows, dens, roosts, nests) are an essential resource for protection from predators and extreme environmental conditions. Refuges also serve as focal sites for social interactions, including mating, courtship, and aggression. Knowledge of refuge use patterns can therefore provide information about social structure, mating, and foraging success, as well as the robustness and health of wildlife populations, especially for species considered to be relatively solitary. In this study, we construct networks of burrow use to infer social associations in a threatened wildlife species typically considered solitary—the desert tortoise. We show that tortoise social networks are significantly...
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Recent technological advances, such as proximity loggers, allow researchers to collect complete interaction histories, day and night, among sampled individuals over several months to years. Social network analyses are an obvious approach to analyzing interaction data because of their flexibility for fitting many different social structures as well as the ability to assess both direct contacts and indirect associations via intermediaries. For many network properties, however, it is not clear whether estimates based upon a sample of the network are reflective of the entire network. In wildlife applications, networks may be poorly sampled and boundary effects will be common. We present an alternative approach that...
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Breeding habitat selection and dispersal are crucial processes that affect many components of fitness. Breeding dispersal entails costs, one of which has been neglected: dispersing animals may miss breeding opportunities because breeding dispersal requires finding a new nesting site and mate, two time- and energy-consuming activities. Dispersers are expected to be prone to non-breeding. We used the kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) to test whether breeding dispersal influences breeding probability. Breeding probability was associated with dispersal, in that both were negatively influenced by private information (previous individual reproductive success) and public information (average reproductive success of conspecifics)...
Long-billed curlews (Numenius americanus) appear unique among scolopacid shorebirds so far studied in possessing a significant sex bias in natal philopatry. We resighted 9 curlews at least attempting to breed that were color-banded as chicks; 8 of these were males. Male curlews also cooperate extensively with neighbors in mobbing potential chick predators. This mutualistic behavior may have evolved through kin selection among philopatric males. If so, we would expect such an evolutionary consequence to lead to a similar sex bias in breeding area fidelity. Yet our resightings of colorbanded adults over 4 consecutive years indicate that males and females were equally likely to return to previous nesting territories....
The ontogeny of sibling recognition behavior was studied in the laboratory in tadpoles of the western toad (Bufo boreas boreas) to test the hypothesis that Bufo tadpoles associate with siblings and to compare this behavior with two species of anurans previously studied. Tadpoles reared exclusively with sibs demonstrated a preference to associate with sibs over non-sibs both early and late in development but tadpoles reared with sibs and non-sibs (mixed rearing groups) exhibited no preference. Larvae that developed a preference for sibs after being reared with them for 75 days lost this preference following exposure to a mixed group for 2 to 6 days. Additionally, larvae reared in a mixed group did not develop a preference...
Few studies have experimentally tested the resource dispersion hypothesis (RDH). In this study, I tested whether space use and social organization of Gunnison’s prairie dog responded to changes in the dispersion and abundance of resources. Food manipulations were carried out during the reproductive and nonreproductive seasons across 2 years. Gunnison’s prairie dog adults responded to the experiments by decreasing territory size as food became patchier in space and time. Both males and females modified their home ranges, with no detectable difference between sexes, either prior to or during the experiments. As food became patchier in space and time, the spatial overlap of adults increased, whereas it decreased...
Summary This study examines the effect of moonlight intensity on deermouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) vulnerability to predation by short-eared owls (Asio flammeus). Three nocturnal light intensities, labeled new moon, quarter moon, and full moon, were simulated in a flight chamber. Deermouse activity was observed and measured by an index of tracking intensity in the chamber's sand floor. The mice were then exposed to predation by a short-eared owl in each light intensity and search time, chase time, capture time, and the number of escapes/chase were measured. The results reveal the adaptive significance of deermouse activity suppression in full moon light as an anti-predator response. The deermice reduced activity...
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Male body size affects access to mates in many animals. Attributes of sexual signals often correlate with body size due to physiological constraints on signal production. Larger males generally produce larger signals, but costs of being large or compensation by small males can result in smaller males producing signals of equal or greater magnitude. Female choice following multiple male traits with different relationships to size might further complicate the effect of male body size on access to mates. We report the relationship between male body size and pheromone signaling, and the effects on female mate search and courtship in the sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus). We predicted that pheromone production in the...
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We studied pairing success in male rock ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus) in northern Alaska to learn whether males obtaining more females possessed phenotypic traits that influenced female choice directly, whether these traits permitted males to obtain territories favored by females, or whether both processes occurred. The number of females per male varied from zero to three. Several male and territory traits were significantly correlated with number of females per male. We used multiple regression to obtain a single measure of male quality and a single measure of territory quality. These measures of male and territory quality correlated with each other and with male pairing success. We used path analysis to separate direct...
Few studies have experimentally tested the resource dispersion hypothesis (RDH). In this study, I tested whether space use and social organization of Gunnison?s prairie dog responded to changes in the dispersion and abundance of resources. Food manipulations were carried out during the reproductive and nonreproductive seasons across 2 years. Gunnison?s prairie dog adults responded to the experiments by decreasing territory size as food became patchier in space and time. Both males and females modified their home ranges, with no detectable difference between sexes, either prior to or during the experiments. As food became patchier in space and time, the spatial overlap of adults increased, whereas it decreased as...
Few studies have experimentally tested the resource dispersion hypothesis (RDH). In this study, I tested whether space use and social organization of Gunnison?s prairie dog responded to changes in the dispersion and abundance of resources. Food manipulations were carried out during the reproductive and nonreproductive seasons across 2 years. Gunnison?s prairie dog adults responded to the experiments by decreasing territory size as food became patchier in space and time. Both males and females modified their home ranges, with no detectable difference between sexes, either prior to or during the experiments. As food became patchier in space and time, the spatial overlap of adults increased, whereas it decreased as...


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