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Habitat use between dominant and subordinate badgers - intraterritorial dominance payoffs

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Journal

Canadian Journal of Zoology, Vol 79,No 1, Jan 2001, pp. 165-170(6) - NRC Research Press

Authors

Revilla E.; Palomares F.

Abstract

Group-living territorial animals such as the badger, face the problem of intragroup competition. Badgers are asymmetric in their access to reproduction (dominant individuals being the ones that reproduce), but little information exists about the extent of intragroup trophic competition. We studied badgers' use of a key trophic resource (the European rabbit), as well as the use of the habitat where this resource is located (key habitat, Mediterranean scrubland) by a low-density group-living population of badgers in Coto del Rey, Doņana, southwestern Spain. During 1995–1996, there was a 2.2-fold reduction of rabbit density, which was reflected in a significant diminution of rabbit use; despite this, rabbits continued to be the most used trophic resource. Notwithstanding the decrease in rabbit density, subordinate badgers reduced their use of the key habitat, while dominant badgers increased it. These results suggest that in Coto del Rey, badger groups exhibit a fully despotic system, with dominance by some individuals not only in access to reproduction, but also in access to food through unequal use of the key habitat that contains it.

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