An experimental study of behavioural group size effects in tammar wallabies, Macropus eugenii

Daniel T. Blumstein*, Christoper S. Evans, Janice C. Daniel

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    67 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    As animals aggregate with others, the time they allot to social and nonsocial activities changes. Antipredator models of vigilance and foraging group size effects both predict a nonlinear relationship between group size and the time allocated to behaviour. Group size effects were experimentally studied in captive adult female tammar wallabies, a small macropodid marsupial, by increasing group size from 1 to 10. Tammars foraged more, looked less, groomed more, engaged in more aggressive interactions and moved about less as group size increased. Nonlinear regression models explained more variation in the time allocated to foraging, looking, locomotion and affiliative behaviour than linear models. Variation in self-grooming and aggression was better explained by linear models. Wallabies lay down significantly more, and walked significantly less, as group size increased: these relationships were significantly nonlinear. Thus, changes in perceived predation risk, which are characterized by nonlinear relationships, explain tammar wallaby group size-effects for most activities. These results support the assertion that predation has played an important role in macropodid social evolution. Moreover, the findings suggest that conservation biologists should pay particular attention to group size when translocating or reintroducing endangered macropodids.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)351-360
    Number of pages10
    JournalAnimal Behaviour
    Volume58
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 1999

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