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      Social interactions in a solitary carnivore

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          Abstract

          In total, 177 of 245 terrestrial carnivores are described as solitary, and much of carnivore ecology is built on the assumptions that interactions between adult solitary carnivores are rare. We employed Global Positioning System (GPS) technology and motion-triggered cameras to test predictions of land-tenure territoriality and the resource dispersion hypothesis in a territorial carnivore, the puma Puma concolor. We documented 89 independent GPS interactions, 60% of which occurred at puma kills ( n = 53), 59 camera interactions, 11 (17%) of which captured courtship behaviors, and 5 other interactions (1 F-F, 3 M-F, and 1 M-M). Mean minimum weekly contact rates were 5.5 times higher in winter, the season when elk Cervus elaphus were aggregated at lower elevations and during which puma courtship primarily occurred. In winter, contacts rates were 0.6 ± 0.3 (standard deviation (SD)) interactions/week vs. 0.1 ± 0.1 (SD) interactions/week during summer. The preponderance of interactions at food sources supported the resource dispersion hypothesis, which predicts that resource fluxes can explain temporary social behaviors that do not result in any apparent benefits for the individuals involved. Conspecific tolerance is logical when a prey is so large that the predator that killed it cannot consume it entirely, and thus, the costs of tolerating a conspecific sharing the kill are less than the potential costs associated with defending it and being injured. Puma aggregations at kills numbered as high as 9, emphasizing the need for future research on what explains tolerance among solitary carnivores.

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          Most cited references 39

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          Guidelines of the American Society of Mammalogists for the use of wild mammals in research

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            The ecology of carnivore social behaviour

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              Contact networks in a wild Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) population: using social network analysis to reveal seasonal variability in social behaviour and its implications for transmission of devil facial tumour disease.

              The structure of the contact network between individuals has a profound effect on the transmission of infectious disease. Using a novel technology--proximity sensing radio collars--we described the contact network in a population of Tasmanian devils. This largest surviving marsupial carnivore is threatened by a novel infectious cancer. All devils were connected in a single giant component, which would permit disease to spread throughout the network from any single infected individual. Unlike the contact networks for many human diseases, the degree distribution was not highly aggregated. Nevertheless, the empirically derived networks differed from random networks. Contact networks differed between the mating and non-mating seasons, with more extended male-female associations in the mating season and a greater frequency of female-female associations outside the mating season. Our results suggest that there is limited potential to control the disease by targeting highly connected age or sex classes.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Curr Zool
                Curr Zool
                czoolo
                Current Zoology
                Oxford University Press
                1674-5507
                August 2017
                10 July 2016
                10 July 2016
                : 63
                : 4
                : 357-362
                zow080
                10.1093/cz/zow080
                5804185
                © The Author (2016). Published by Oxford University Press.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact journals.permissions@oup.com

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                Pages: 6
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                Funding
                Funded by: Summerlee Foundation 10.13039/100001886
                Funded by: National Geographic Society 10.13039/100006363
                Funded by: Community Foundation of Jackson Hole 10.13039/100001052
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