Helpers influence on territory use and maintenance in Alpine marmot groups

in Behaviour
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In social mammals, territory size and shape vary according to the number and strength of neighbour individuals competing for resources. Two main theories have been proposed to explain this variability: the Group Augmentation (GA) and the realized Resource Holding Potential (rRHP) hypotheses. The first states that the outcome of the interactions among groups depends on the total number of individuals in the group while the second states that only the number of animals directly involved in intergroup competition determines this outcome. We collected data on space use of individually tagged Alpine marmots (Marmota marmota), a cooperative breeding species that overlaps part of its territory with neighbouring groups. In accordance with the rRHP hypothesis, we found that groups having higher proportion of helpers, rather than higher total number of individuals, had lower percentage of the territory overlapping with neighbouring groups and a larger area available for individual exclusive use.

Helpers influence on territory use and maintenance in Alpine marmot groups

in Behaviour

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References

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Figures

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    Relationship between the proportion of overlap areas and the proportion of scent-marking behaviours for each group in Alpine marmots at Orvielles, Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy. Best fit regression line (solid dark) and the 95% confidence interval around the estimated line (grey shaded area) are provided.

  • View in gallery

    Relationship between (a) balanced Male Index and (b) Group Index on the relative shared area (i.e., Overlap Index) calculated for each group dyad in Alpine marmots at Orvielles, Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy. When balanced Male Index is higher than 1, the first group has a higher proportion of adult males than the second one. Similarly when Group Index is higher than 1 the first group has a larger number of total individuals than the second one. When the Overlap Index is negative, the first group shares less territory than the second one involved in the dyad. Best fitting regression line (solid dark) and the 95% confidence interval around the estimated line (grey shaded area) are provided.

  • View in gallery

    Relationship between (a) balanced Male Index and (b) Group Index on the Relative Area of exclusive use for each group dyad in Alpine marmots at Orvielles, Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy. When balanced Male Index is higher than 1, the first group has a higher proportion of adult males than the second one. Similarly when Group Index is higher than 1 the first group has a larger number of total individuals than the second one. When the Relative Area of exclusive use is positive, individuals of the first group have larger area for exclusive use than individuals belonging to the second one. Best fitting regression line (solid dark) and the 95% confidence interval around the estimated line (shaded grey area) are provided.

  • View in gallery

    Differences in the overlap area shared by each dyad (Overlap Index) for groups inhabiting low and high study sites in Alpine marmots at Orvielles, Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy. Low site refers to overlap index between families collected in the area located at about 2100 m a.s.l., while high site refers to overlap index between families collected in the area located at about 2300 m a.s.l. The boxplots show medians, quartiles, and 5th and 95th percentiles. Real points are provided in the figure.

  • View in gallery

    Influence of pups presence (Young Index) on the Relative Area of exclusive use. When the Relative Area of exclusive use is positive, individuals of the first group (A) have larger area for exclusive use than individuals belonging to the second one (B). Four cases are represented: a having no young and B having young (A_no–B_yes); A and B both having no young (A_no–B_no); A and B both having young (A_yes–B_yes); A having young and B having no young (A_yes–B_no). The boxplots show medians, quartiles, and 5th and 95th percentiles. Real points are provided in the figure.

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