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  Burrow usage patterns and decision-making in meerkat groups

Strandburg-Peshkin, A., Clutton-Brock, T., & Manser, M. B. (2020). Burrow usage patterns and decision-making in meerkat groups. Behavioral Ecology, 31(2), 292-302. doi:10.1093/beheco/arz190.

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https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arz190 (Any fulltext)
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Strandburg-Peshkin, Ariana1, Author              
Clutton-Brock, Tim, Author
Manser, Marta B., Author
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1ou_persistent22, ou_persistent22              

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 Abstract: Choosing suitable sleeping sites is a common challenge faced by animals across a range of taxa, with important implications for the space usage patterns of individuals, groups, and ultimately populations. A range of factors may affect these decisions, including access to resources nearby, shelter from the elements, safety from predators, territorial defense, and protection of offspring. We investigated the factors driving patterns of sleeping site use in wild Kalahari meerkats (Suricata suricatta), a cooperatively breeding, territorial mongoose species that forages on scattered resources and makes use of multiple sleeping sites (burrows). We found that meerkat groups used some burrows much more often than others. In particular, large burrows near the center of the territory were used more often than small and peripheral burrows, and groups became even more biased toward central burrows when rearing pups. Meerkats also used their sleeping burrows in a nonrandom order. When they changed sleeping burrows, they moved disproportionately to nearby burrows but did not always select the closest burrow. Burrow decisions also reflected responses to short-term conditions: rates of switching burrows increased after encounters with predators and when resources were depleted, whereas group splits were associated with a reduced probability of switching. The group’s dominant female appeared to have disproportionate influence over burrow decisions, as groups were more likely to switch burrows when her foraging success was low. Our results link behavioral and movement ecology to show that a multitude of environmental and social factors shape daily group decisions of where to spend the night.

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 Dates: 2020-03-01
 Publication Status: Published in print
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 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arz190
ISSN: 1045-2249
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Title: Behavioral Ecology
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: New York, NY : Oxford University Press
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 31 (2) Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 292 - 302 Identifier: ISSN: 1045-2249
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/954925590416