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Scent marking and territorial defence in male bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus)


Torsten Wronski, Biozentrum Grindel und Zoologisches Museum, Universität Hamburg, Martin-Luther-King Platz 3, 20146 Hamburg, Germany.


Tragelaphine antelopes were often considered to lack territoriality. A recent study, however, has suggested that male bushbuck Tragelaphus scriptus use the inner core of their home ranges exclusively. In this study, we examined whether males demarcate this area with an oily secretion emanating at their horn bases and cheeks (front rubbing). Furthermore, we studied aggressive interactions between adult males relative to home-range dimension. We found that the distribution pattern of the nearest-neighbour distances between front-rubbing marking sites significantly differed from random distribution and was shifted towards shorter distances. This is a typical pattern for territorial marking. Further support for the idea that front rubbing serves to demarcate male territories comes from the finding that the polygons obtained from nearest-neighbour mapping of front-rubbing sites match best the 70% minimum convex polygon (MCP) obtained from random location fixes. The exclusively used core of male home ranges was previously found to be the area inside the 50% MCP. Furthermore, males tended to defend the area inside the 70% core most intensely; that is, won aggressive interactions prevailed in number, whereas lost interactions prevailed further outside.