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Kinship Discrimination and Effects on Social Rank and Aggressiveness Levels in Iberian Red Deer Hinds

Authors

  • Francisco Ceacero,

    1.  Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos (IREC), CSIC, Albacete, Spain
    2.  Sección de Recursos Cinegéticos, IDR, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Albacete, Spain
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  • Tomás Landete-Castillejos,

    1.  Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos (IREC), CSIC, Albacete, Spain
    2.  Sección de Recursos Cinegéticos, IDR, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Albacete, Spain
    3.  Departamento de Ciencia y Tecnología Agroforestal, ETSIA, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Abacete, Spain
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  • Andres J. García,

    1.  Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos (IREC), CSIC, Albacete, Spain
    2.  Sección de Recursos Cinegéticos, IDR, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Albacete, Spain
    3.  Departamento de Ciencia y Tecnología Agroforestal, ETSIA, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Abacete, Spain
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  • José A. Estévez,

    1.  Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos (IREC), CSIC, Albacete, Spain
    2.  Sección de Recursos Cinegéticos, IDR, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Albacete, Spain
    3.  Departamento de Ciencia y Tecnología Agroforestal, ETSIA, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Abacete, Spain
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  • Laureano Gallego

    1.  Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos (IREC), CSIC, Albacete, Spain
    2.  Departamento de Ciencia y Tecnología Agroforestal, ETSIA, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Abacete, Spain
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Francisco Ceacero, Sección de Recursos Cinegéticos, IDR, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, 02071, Albacete, Spain.
E-mail: francisco.ceacero@uclm.es

Abstract

Kin recognition is a widespread phenomenon that allows individuals to benefit by enhancing their inclusive fitness, and one of its most common forms is reducing aggressiveness towards relatives. We carried out an experiment with Iberian red deer hinds (Cervus elaphus hispanicus) in order to examine kin biases in dominance behaviour and its consequences on social rank. Three enclosed groups (n = 36, 23 and 21, respectively) were monitored during two lactation seasons and social rank hierarchies were assessed by analysing aggressive interactions matrices with Matman 1.1 software. Aggressive interactions between related hinds was significantly smaller than expected (χ2 = 5.02, df = 1, p = 0.025), not only between mother and daughter but also in second and third kinship degrees. Although rates of aggressiveness were similar to data published relating free-ranging C. e. scoticus, aggressive interactions with relatives were significantly smaller (χ2 = 39.0, df = 1, p < 0.001). This reduction of aggressiveness between related hinds was not the result of these hinds having a lower social rank: social rank was only related to age and weight, but not to kinship degree, calf sex or calving date. The decrease of aggressiveness towards first-, second- and third-degree relatives shows a complex kin recognition system in deer. Possible nepotistic roles in lactation include preventing milk thefts by non-kin and disturbing feeding of unrelated hinds.

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