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Abstract and Summary

Ichneumia are nocturnal, insectivorous, solitary, but in high-density populations live in clans within which several females and their offspring forage independently in common home ranges. It is likely, though as yet unproven, that clans are matrilines and are formed when some female offspring fail to disperse from the natal home range. The social structure of Ichneumia suggests that social groups in other viverrids arose when selection simultaneously favored two independent behavioral tendencies: (1) natal philopatry (failure of some young to disperse), and (2) gregariousness. Prey characteristics are likely to have favored the former, safety from predators the latter. In this view, only the former process has been operative in Ichneumia.

Lamprecht (1981, p. 178), summarizing data bearing on the advantages of group hunting in canids, felids, and hyaenids, has recently concluded that even among larger carnivores groups are sometimes “adapted to problems quite unconnected with hunting and feeding, such as protection from predators, or competing for territories or mates”. Evidently, his generalization fits group-living viverrids as well. Ichneumia social structure suggests a route by which selection might have produced more complex viverrid societies.

Zusammenfassung

Weißschwanzmangusten sind nachtaktive Insektenfresser und leben solitär. Bei hoher Populationsdichte jedoch schließen sich mehrere Weibchen mit Nachkommen zu Clans zusammen und gehen zwar getrenntaber im gleichen Streifgebiet auf Nahrungssuche. Vermutlich sind diese Clans matrilinear verwandt und entstehen, wenn einige Töchter nicht aus dem mütterlichen Gebiet abwandern.

Die Sozialstruktur der Weißschwanzmanguste läßt vermuten, daß die festen Sozietäten anderer Viverriden entstanden, wenn die Selektion Gruppen prämiierte und das Abwandern der Nachkommen erschwerte; Feindvermeidung scheint für das erstere, Nahrungserwerb für das letztere verantwortlich. Bei der Weißschwanzmanguste wirkt nur der Nahrungsfaktor.

Wie weit Viverriden in ein allgemeines Gruppenbildungs-Schema der Carnivoren passen, wird erörtert.