*Groupe de Recherche en Écologie, Nutrition et Énergétique, Département de Biologie, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Québec, J1K 2R1, Canada
Do lambs affect feeding habitat use by lactating female mouflons in spring in areas free of predators?
Article first published online: 14 MAY 2009
Journal of Zoology
Volume 235, Issue 1, pages 43–51, January 1995
How to Cite
Bon, R., Joachim, J. and Maublanc, M. L. (1995), Do lambs affect feeding habitat use by lactating female mouflons in spring in areas free of predators?. Journal of Zoology, 235: 43–51. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.1995.tb05126.x
- Issue published online: 14 MAY 2009
- Article first published online: 14 MAY 2009
- Accepted 26 November 1993
The purpose of this study was to see if mouflon (Ovis gmelini) females with lambs have feeding habitats similar to other sex-age classes in spring, in an area without large natural predators. Parous ewes restricted themselves to rocky and poor nutritive habitats but lambed within their winter home range. Once in matriarchal groups, females with lambs ≥ three days old fed more on rocky areas and stayed closer to safe terrain than did other mouflons which more frequently used slope tops, patches containing herbs, and pastures around a little village. Segregation between the two categories of mouflons was reduced when lambs were several weeks old during the peak growing season. Seclusion of parous females may be explained by potential predation by foxes on neonates, an asocial tendency, the need to form mother-young bonds and the necessity for the young to develop locomotor skills. Rocky areas may also provide favourable microclimatic conditions. Two non-exclusive hypotheses may account for the tendency of lactating females to remain near ‘escape’ terrain. First, the anti-predator strategy could be driven in the absence of predators because of phylogenetic inertia. Secondly, the anti-predator strategy may be learned during the autumn hunting season and exhibited during the lambing season even without predation.