The Effects of Crowding on the Social Relationships and Behaviour of the Dwarf Mongoose (Helogale undulata rufula)

Authors

  • O. Anne E. Rasa

    Corresponding author
    1. Max-Planck Institut für Verhaltensphysiologie, Seewiesen
      Fachbereich Biologie/Zoologie der Philipps Universität, Postfach 1929, D-3550 Marburg/Lahn.
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Fachbereich Biologie/Zoologie der Philipps Universität, Postfach 1929, D-3550 Marburg/Lahn.

Abstract

Since dwarf mongooses in captivity show an extremely stable familiar structure with no evidence of group break-up, the study was designed to place the animals under crowding stress to determine whether such tendencies would be manifested and whether compensatory mechanisms to maintain group cohesion are present. A stable family group of 12 animals was investigated and observations over 150 h under control and 120 h under crowded conditions made. The results show that social pressure is mainly exerted on subordinate adult ♂♂ and ♀♀, sometimes resulting in their death by stress-induced uraemia, through increased aggression by the a pair. The social system stabilises after 16 days but high intra-group aggression/submission remains. Synchronisation of oestrus cycles in nubile ♀♀ resulted in simultaneous littering with loss of all young. The significance of these findings for population regulation is discussed.

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