Within-group spatial position in ring-tailed coatis: balancing predation, feeding competition, and social competition

Hirsch, Ben T. (2011) Within-group spatial position in ring-tailed coatis: balancing predation, feeding competition, and social competition. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 65 (2). pp. 391-399.

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A variety of factors can influence an individual's choice of within-group spatial position. For terrestrial social animals, predation, feeding success, and social competition are thought to be three of the most important variables. The relative importance of these three factors was investigated in groups of ring-tailed coatis (Nasua nasua) in Iguazú, Argentina. Different age/sex classes responded differently to these three variables. Coatis were found in close proximity to their own age/sex class more often than random, and three out of four age/sex classes were found to exhibit within-group spatial position preferences which differed from random. Juveniles were located more often at the front edge and were rarely found at the back of the group. Juveniles appeared to choose spatial locations based on feeding success and not predation avoidance. Since juveniles are the most susceptible to predation and presumably have less prior knowledge of food source location, these results have important implications in relation to predator-sensitive foraging and models of democratic group leadership. Subadults were subordinate to adult females, and their relationships were characterized by high levels of aggression. This aggression was especially common during the first half of the coati year (Nov–April), and subadults were more peripheralized during this time period. Subadults likely chose spatial positions to avoid aggression and were actively excluded from the center of the group by adult females. In the Iguazú coati groups, it appeared that food acquisition and social agonism were the major determinants driving spatial choice, while predation played little or no role. This paper demonstrates that within-group spatial structure can be a complex process shaped by differences in body size and nutritional requirements, food patch size and depletion rate, and social dominance status. How and why these factors interact is important to understanding the costs and benefits of sociality and emergent properties of animal group formation.

Item ID: 44237
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0762
Keywords: coati, social foraging, spatial position, Nasua, predation, dominance, feeding competition
Funders: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Projects and Grants: NSF BCS-0314525
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2016 04:05
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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