Despite striking diversity in mammalian social behavior, studies of social organization have often dichotomized species by identifying them as either solitary or social (i.e., group living). This tendency has been particularly pronounced for subterranean rodents, the majority of which have long been assumed to be solitary. As a result, variation in social organization has likely been underestimated for these animals, particularly for species in which patterns of space use suggest limited or temporally dynamic opportunities for interactions among conspecifics. Here, we characterize patterns of space use in a population of tuco-tucos (Ctenomys sp.) from Anillaco, La Rioja Province, Argentina. Although these animals have been the subject of extensive research regarding circadian patterns of activity, spatial and social relationships among free-living individuals have not been documented. Analyses of radiotelemetry data from 17 individuals monitored during the breeding season (December 2015) revealed that partial overlap of individual home ranges was common, occurring between male–female as well as female–female pairs of animals. Spatial relationships, however, were dynamic, with both home range sizes and overlap changing on a daily basis. Although members of the study population did not meet the criteria typically used to identify group living in subterranean species, they were not completely solitary. Instead, the animals displayed an intermediate form of social organization characterized by persistent partial overlap of the areas occupied by different adults. These data add to the growing comparative picture of social variation in Ctenomys and suggest that further studies of these animals should contribute to improved understanding of the factors underlying differences in mammalian social systems.
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Vol. 102 • No. 3