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Site fidelity, migratory behaviour, and spatial organization of female isards (Rupicapra pyrenaica) in the Pyrenees National Park, France

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We studied from 1993 to 2002 the spatial organization of visually marked females in an isard (Rupicapra pyrenaica Bonaparte, 1845) population in the Pyrenees National Park. In winter, all individuals were concentrated within the same 3.7 km2 refuge area. In summer, two patterns of space use were recorded: sedentary females (n = 33; 52.2%) remained within the refuge area, whereas migrating females (n = 29; 46.8%) summered outside the refuge area, at a horizontal distance of 1.4–9.2km and 300–800m higher in elevation than their winter ranges. Females were faithful to their seasonal ranges. The population was organized in well-defined spatial units in summer. This organization was roughly preserved in winter, despite the spatial concentration of the individuals by this season. The resulting spatial clustering might reduce spatial competition and pathogenic contamination between groups, allowing the maintenance of high population density. The appearance of a migratory pattern occurred probably as a result of the protected status of the species, which allowed the population to increase. Some individuals dispersed as a result of the population density increase. The two recorded patterns of space use likely arose from spatial attachment and social affinity that developed in the first years of a female’s life, and could explain the coexistence of the two spatial patterns.

Nous avons étudié de 1993 à 2002l’organisation spatiale de femelles marquées visuellement au sein d’une population d’isards (Rupicapra pyrenaica Bonaparte, 1845) du Parc National des Pyrénées. En hiver, tous les individus étaient concentrés au sein d’une zone refuge de 3,7km2. Durant l’été, deux patrons spatiaux ont été observés : les femelles sédentaires (n = 33; 52,2 %) sont restées au sein de la zone refuge, alors que les femelles migratrices (n = 29; 46,8 %) ont estivé à l’extérieur, à des distances comprises entre 1,4 et 9,2km et à des altitudes supérieures de 300 à 800m à celles de la zone d’hiver. Les femelles ont été fidèles à leur domaine saisonnier. La population était organisée en unités spatiales bien définies en été et cette organisation reste sensiblement préservée en hiver, malgré la forte concentration des individus à cette saison. Ce morcellement pourrait réduire la compétition spatiale et la circulation de pathogènes au sein des groupes, et contribuer ainsi au maintien des fortes densités observées. L’apparition d’un comportement migrateur est probablement survenue lorsque les mesures de protection ont favorisé l’accroissement des effectifs. Certains individus se sont dispersés par suite de l’augmentation de la densité de cette population. Les deux traditions spatiales observées ont pu se maintenir au travers d’un attachement spatial et d’affinités sociales développés dans les premières années de vie des femelles, ce qui expliquerait le maintien des deux modes d’utilisation de l’espace.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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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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