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Manipulation of population density and food availability affects home range sizes of African striped mouse females


Schoepf, Ivana; Schmohl, Gabriela; König, Barbara; Pillay, Neville; Schradin, Carsten (2015). Manipulation of population density and food availability affects home range sizes of African striped mouse females. Animal Behaviour, 99:53-60.

Abstract

An individual's home range determines its access to resources, significantly influencing its fitness. Food availability and population density are considered to be among the primary factors influencing home range sizes; however, no study has experimentally tested whether these two factors affect home range sizes independently. This is important as these two factors correlate significantly with each other, making it difficult to differentiate the effect of one from the other. First, we supplemented food to 23 female African striped mice, Rhabdomys pumilio, belonging to 15 different groups. To avoid an increase in population density by immigration, we also provided food to neighbouring groups. Although population density did not increase, female home range sizes decreased by 43.1%. In a second experiment, we manipulated population density by removing entire social groups of striped mice. We carried out experiments within 7 weeks, a period short enough to control for a change in natural food availability. Experimental decrease of population density caused an increase of female home range sizes of 44.3%. The degree of home range overlap between female striped mice was unaffected by supplemental feeding or by reduction of population density. However, female home range sizes were negatively affected by the total number of female neighbours, especially of heavier individuals. In addition, after removal, females significantly decreased their overlap with neighbouring breeding females indicating that competition with same-sex individuals shapes females' home ranges. This is the first comprehensive experimental field study demonstrating that an increase in food availability and a decrease in population density independently affect home range sizes of individuals.

Abstract

An individual's home range determines its access to resources, significantly influencing its fitness. Food availability and population density are considered to be among the primary factors influencing home range sizes; however, no study has experimentally tested whether these two factors affect home range sizes independently. This is important as these two factors correlate significantly with each other, making it difficult to differentiate the effect of one from the other. First, we supplemented food to 23 female African striped mice, Rhabdomys pumilio, belonging to 15 different groups. To avoid an increase in population density by immigration, we also provided food to neighbouring groups. Although population density did not increase, female home range sizes decreased by 43.1%. In a second experiment, we manipulated population density by removing entire social groups of striped mice. We carried out experiments within 7 weeks, a period short enough to control for a change in natural food availability. Experimental decrease of population density caused an increase of female home range sizes of 44.3%. The degree of home range overlap between female striped mice was unaffected by supplemental feeding or by reduction of population density. However, female home range sizes were negatively affected by the total number of female neighbours, especially of heavier individuals. In addition, after removal, females significantly decreased their overlap with neighbouring breeding females indicating that competition with same-sex individuals shapes females' home ranges. This is the first comprehensive experimental field study demonstrating that an increase in food availability and a decrease in population density independently affect home range sizes of individuals.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Life Sciences > Animal Science and Zoology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Animal Science and Zoology, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:1 January 2015
Deposited On:22 Nov 2018 14:09
Last Modified:31 Jul 2020 02:53
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0003-3472
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2014.10.002

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