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Influences of mating group composition on the behavioral time-budget of male and female Alpine Ibex (Capra ibex) during the rut

, : Influences of mating group composition on the behavioral time-budget of male and female Alpine Ibex (Capra ibex) during the rut. Plos One 9(1): E86004-E86004

During the rut, polygynous ungulates gather in mixed groups of individuals of different sex and age. Group social composition, which may vary on a daily basis, is likely to have strong influences on individual's time-budget, with emerging properties at the group-level. To date, few studies have considered the influence of group composition on male and female behavioral time budget in mating groups. Focusing on a wild population of Alpine ibex, we investigated the influence of group composition (adult sex ratio, the proportion of dominant to subordinate males, and group size) on three behavioral axes obtained by Principal Components Analysis, describing male and female group time-budget. For both sexes, the first behavioral axis discerned a trade-off between grazing and standing/vigilance behavior. In females, group vigilance behavior increased with increasingly male-biased sex ratio, whereas in males, the effect of adult sex ratio on standing/vigilance behavior depended on the relative proportion of dominant males in the mating group. The second axis characterized courtship and male-male agonistic behavior in males, and moving and male-directed agonistic behavior in females. Mating group composition did not substantially influence this axis in males. However, moving and male-directed agonistic behavior increased at highly biased sex ratios (quadratic effect) in females. Finally, the third axis highlighted a trade-off between moving and lying behavior in males, and distinguished moving and female-female agonistic behavior from lying behavior in females. For males, those behaviors were influenced by a complex interaction between group size and adult sex ratio, whereas in females, moving and female-female agonistic behaviors increased in a quadratic fashion at highly biased sex ratios, and also increased with increasing group size. Our results reveal complex behavioral trade-offs depending on group composition in the Alpine ibex, and emphasize the importance of social factors in influencing behavioral time-budgets of wild ungulates during the rut.


PMID: 24416453

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0086004

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