Effects of phenology and sex on social proximity in a gregarious ungulate
Abstract:Structure in sociality is known to relate to intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Less understood are the mechanics of sociality expressed as fine-scale behaviours that maintain hierarchies, mediate competition, or transmit pathogens. A recent novel approach to quantifying fine-scale social behaviour has been to use proximity-logging biotelemetry collars. This technology continuously records data whenever collars are within a predefined distance of each other, at times of day, and in habitats where traditional ethological approaches to focal-individual sampling of behaviours are unfeasible. We tested a series of expectations on fine-scale (≤1.4 m) interaction rates and durations consistent with competing hypotheses of seasonal and sexual segregation for elk (Cervus canadensis Erxleben, 1777). Female–female dyads interacted 4 times more frequently than male–male dyads (mean interaction rate per year: female–female = 62 vs. male–male = 14; P < 0.001), and male–male interactions were 1.5 times longer in duration than female–female interactions (mean interaction length: female–female = 30 s vs. male–male = 45 s; P < 0.001). We propose that fine-scale interactions among members of a population can be modeled as a trade-off between the frequency (quantity) and the duration (quality) of interactions. Our results have implications for understanding sex-based differences in sociality in gregarious herbivores and for disease transmission, which may follow from social intercourse.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan, 112 Science Place, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5E2, Canada. 2: Raincoast Conservation Foundation, P.O. Box 86, Denny Island, BC V0T 1B0, Canada.
Publication date: 2013-01-01
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