Location and group size influence decisions in simulated intergroup encounters in banded mongooses
In social species that cooperatively defend territories the decision to retreat or attack in contests between groups is likely to depend on ecological and social factors. Previous studies have emphasized the importance of the encounter location or the size of competing groups on the outcome. In addition, the identity of the intruder, whether familiar or stranger, may also play a role. To test whether the same factors affect the resident group's decisions already at the beginning of contests, we simulated intergroup encounters in banded mongooses (Mungos mungo). When spotting rival groups banded mongooses emit "screeching calls" which lead group members to bunch up. With playbacks of these calls, we tested how the groups' response was affected by the following factors: 1) the location of the playback in relation to their territory (exclusive use vs. overlap); 2) the number of resident individuals; and 3) the origin of calls (neighbor vs. stranger) used. Subjects were more likely to approach the loudspeakers and arrive within 1 m of the speakers in the exclusive use zone than in the overlap zone. Moreover, larger groups tended to be more likely to move toward the loudspeakers and were also more likely to arrive there. The origin of calls used in the playbacks did not affect the groups' responses. These findings exemplify the importance of the combined effect of location and group size on group decisions during impending intergroup contest. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.
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Volume (Year): 22 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
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