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Do reproductive constraints or experience drive age-dependent space use in two large herbivores?

Abstract : Life histories are strongly age dependent, notably linked to the onset of reproductive maturity and subsequent senescence. Consequently, ageing is predicted to impact behaviour, through the expression of either mating tactics in males or neonatal antipredator tactics in females. However, the influence of ageing, and the associated reproductive activity, on spatial behaviour remains poorly investigated. In this regard, we quantified age- and sex-specific intra-annual variation in movement rates and space use of two large herbivores with contrasting life histories: the roe deer, Capreolus capreolus, an asocial species with a territorial male mating strategy and a hider neonatal tactic, and the Mediterranean mouflon, Ovis gmelini musimon × Ovis sp., a gregarious species with a roaming male mating strategy and a follower neonatal tactic. We expected age-related differences to be mostly related to (1) age-specific mating tactics during the rut for males and the presence/absence of offspring for females, and (2) experience and/or locomotory senescence otherwise. During the rutting period, older roe deer males travelled greater daily distances than younger males due to patrolling behaviours for territory defence, whereas older mouflon males travelled less than younger males, which often adopted coursing tactics to mate with females. During the birth period, reproductive females had smaller home ranges than nonreproductive females in roe deer, whereas no marked differences were observed in mouflon females. The most marked age-related variation in space use of mouflon occurred outside the reproductive periods; specifically, the oldest individuals travelled less far and had a smaller home range (females only) than younger individuals. Our findings illustrate how space use tactics vary within and between populations of large herbivores, providing strong evidence that age and reproductive activity are major determinants of their spatial behaviour. © 2020 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour
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Submitted on : Thursday, February 11, 2021 - 10:50:02 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, June 9, 2021 - 3:26:02 PM




A. Malagnino, P. Marchand, M. Garel, B. Cargnelutti, C. Itty, et al.. Do reproductive constraints or experience drive age-dependent space use in two large herbivores?. Animal Behaviour, Elsevier Masson, 2021, 172, pp.121-133. ⟨10.1016/j.anbehav.2020.12.004⟩. ⟨hal-03138477⟩



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