Spatial position and feeding success in ring-tailed coatis

Hirsch, Ben T. (2011) Spatial position and feeding success in ring-tailed coatis. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 65 (4). pp. 581-591.

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The location of an animal within a social group has important effects on feeding success. When animals consume quickly eaten food items, individuals located at the front edge of a group typically have greater foraging success. When groups feed at large clumped resources, dominant individuals can often monopolize the resource, leading to higher feeding success in the center of the group. In order to test these predictions, behavioral data relating foraging success to within-group spatial position were recorded from two habituated groups of ring-tailed coatis (Nasua nasua) in Iguazu, Argentina. Foraging success did not fit expected patterns. When feeding on small ground litter invertebrates, coatis had the same foraging success at all spatial positions. This pattern likely resulted from an abundance of invertebrates in the ground litter. When feeding on fruit, individuals in the front of the group had greater feeding success, which was driven by the relatively quick depletion of fruit trees. Dominant juveniles were often located in the front of the group which led to increased access to food. This resulted in higher feeding success on fruits but simultaneously increased their risk of predation. Although groups typically became more elongated and traveled faster when feeding on fruit, it did not appear that the coatis were drastically changing their spacing strategies when switching between the two food types. Paradoxically, spatial position preferences during invertebrate foraging appeared to be driven by fruit trees. Because fruit trees were encountered so frequently, juveniles ranging at the front edge of the group during invertebrate foraging were the first to arrive at fruit trees and thus had higher foraging success. This study demonstrates the importance of how food patch size and depletion rate affect the spatial preferences of individuals.

Item ID: 44236
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0762
Keywords: coati, social foraging, dominance, within-group spatial position, food depletion, feeding competition, predation
Funders: National Science Fund (NSF)
Projects and Grants: NSF BCS-0314525
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2016 04:24
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales @ 100%
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