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13 October 2018 Social behavior and changes in foraging behavior in a gregarious ungulate
Leah M. Peterson, Floyd W. Weckerly
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Large herbivores display restricted area searching and, therefore, in food-rich patches, animals should spend more time feeding, move slowly, and take tortuous movement paths. Intersexual differences in social behavior might disrupt restricted area searching that, in turn, might affect ecological differences between size-dimorphic females and males. We measured time the head was up (head up), step lengths (m/min), and tortuosity of foraging paths in 547 focal observations in a nonmigratory population of Roosevelt elk (Cervus elaphus roosevelti) in Redwood National and State Parks, California, United States. Focal observations were 4–15 min in length. Head up was positively related to proximity (within 1 body length of other elk) for females and males but the slope was steeper for males. When males were aggregated with females, head up was more elevated than when males were aggregated with other males. Sex-specific social behaviors did not influence step length and foraging path tortuosity. Social behavior disrupted efficient foraging. Connecting social behavior to foraging behavior can help explain the numerous ways that size-dimorphic females and males display ecological differences.

© 2018 American Society of Mammalogists,
Leah M. Peterson and Floyd W. Weckerly "Social behavior and changes in foraging behavior in a gregarious ungulate," Journal of Mammalogy 99(6), 1422-1429, (13 October 2018).
Received: 9 July 2018; Accepted: 19 September 2018; Published: 13 October 2018

animal proximity
Cervus elaphus
forage efficiency
group living
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