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Grouping patterns, reproduction, and dispersal in a population of sitatungas (Tragelaphus spekei gratus)

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Abstract:

A population of sitatungas (Tragelaphus spekei gratus) living in a forest swamp clearing, Maya Nord, in the Republic of Congo was studied over 3½ years and its grouping patterns and population dynamics were analysed. The sitatungas in this clearing formed a stable group, which remained in residence. The group (16–36 individuals) functioned like a harem. As a result of intrasexual competition, all the males and some of the females born at Maya left the group before reaching sexual maturity. We hypothesize that this large grouping resulted from the development of a tendency for females to be gregarious for reasons related to food availability. This tendency, combined with an aseasonal pattern of reproduction, favours direct monopolization of females by one male. Social and mating strategies observed at Maya fit the model of "female-defence polygyny" (Emlen and Oring). Our results provide an argument in favour of relating food availability and grouping patterns, and underline the plasticity of social organization and mating strategies in sitatungas.

Une population de sitatungas (Tragelaphus spekei gratus) vivant sur une clairière forestière marécageuse, Maya Nord, en République du Congo, a été suivie pendant 3½ ans; la dynamique de la population et les modalités des regroupements ont été analysées. Les sitatungas de la clairière Maya (16–36 individus) formaient un groupe stable et résidaient toute la journée sur la clairière. Ce groupe fonctionnait comme un harem. En raison de la compétition intrasexuelle, tous les mâles et une partie des femelles nés sur la clairière ont quitté le groupe avant leur maturité sexuelle. Ces modalités de groupement semblent résulter des tendances grégaires des femelles induites par les disponibilités alimentaires. Ces tendances, combinées aux patterns de reproduction non saisonniers, favorisent la monopolisation des femelles par un mâle. Les stratégies sociales et reproductives observées concordent avec le modèle de polygynie avec défense des femelles (female-defence polygyny d'Emlen and Oring). Nos résultats fournissent des arguments pour faire le lien entre les disponibilités en nourriture et les modalités de groupement et soulignent la plasticité de l'organisation sociale et des systèmes de reproduction des sitatungas.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2002

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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