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In: Journal of Material Cultures in the Muslim World

Abstract

(I) A colony of black-tailed prairie dogs in the Philadelphia zoo is being used for long term studies of various aspects of social behavior including pattern of social organization, stylized means of communicating, and the effects of individual behavioral differences on communication and social structure. (2) This report deals with the annual cycle of social behavior manifested by the colony during the first three years of study. In gross outline an annual cycle can be described as follows: during the summer most individuals have "friendly" inter-relationships, and little organization is apparent. During autumn the animals gradually band into coterie groups and each group begins to defend a common territory, primarily through a highly ritualized procedure of "challenging" neighbors across a common boundary. By midwinter the adult males are very aggressive. With the advent of the winter breeding season, the females too become aggressive, and some establish territories that may subdivide coterie territories. In spring males and then females gradually become less aggressive, so that by about the time the pups emerge onto the surface the relaxed social relationships typical of summer are developing generally. (3) The shifting pattern of social organization is based on the division of individuals into classes on the basis of sex, age, dominance, and coterie and other bonds, and modified by the considerable inter-individual differencees in what may loosely be called "temperament." (4) Comparisons of the patterns of social organization shown by the zoo prairie dogs with those thus far described in the literature for wild populations show fundamental similarities, although the very high density and lack of opportunity for emigration in the zoo colony have lead to some modifications which are described and discussed. (5) The complexity of the social; organization of the black-tailed prairie dog is unusual for a rodent, and a model is proposed to account for its evolution from more widespread patterns of rodent social behavior. As the model emphasizes the role of the very open grassland habitat of the species in intensifying the natural selection potentially responsible for the evolution of this socal complexity, it suggests that habitat similarities may underlie evolutionary convergences in the social systems of black-tailed prairie dogs and savanna-dwelling primates.

In: Behaviour

Dramatic global amphibian declines have recently led to an increased concern for many species of this animal class. The enigmatic Hula painted frog (Latonia nigriventer), the first amphibian to be declared extinct but unexpectedly rediscovered in 2011, has remained one of the rarest and most poorly understood amphibians worldwide. Gathering basic biological information on this species, along with an understanding of its disease-related threats remains fundamental for developing risk assessments and conservation strategies. Our surveys in recent years confirmed that L. nigriventer is a localised species with elusive habits. The species appears to follow an opportunistic breeding phenology and has a tadpole morphology similar to its well-studied sister group Discoglossus. However, the adults’ extended annual presence in the aquatic habitat is a major difference from species of Discoglossus. We detected the amphibian chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), in northern Israel and on Hula painted frogs but did not observe any signs of chytridiomycosis in this species. Our preliminary data on aspects of the innate immunity of L. nigriventer suggest that the skin mucosome of this species contains antimicrobial peptides and a bacterial community differing from other syntopic frogs (Pelophylax bedriagae). The combined knowledge of both natural history and innate immunity of L. nigriventer provides valuable insights to direct future research and conservation management of this critically endangered frog species.

Open Access
In: Contributions to Zoology