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.
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Vol. 99 • No. 6