A laboratory study on the ontogeny of social behavior in pikas (Ochotona princeps), an alpine lagomorph, was conducted to determine the role of early relationships between adult females and young and among siblings in the development of territorial and dispersal behaviors. Sex differences during development were examined because field studies have reported greater dispersal distances in young females than young males. At birth, females were significantly heavier than males. There were no sex differences in nursing frequency until after the 2nd week of age, when males initiated more nursing attempts than females. By the end of the weaning period (weeks 5 and 6), adult females became non-interactive with young, but aggression of young toward littermates and the mother increased until the eighth week. At this time, young males outweighed their sibling females. Young were dominant over their mothers by the age of 5 weeks, and young males were dominant over their sibling females.
Sex differences were observed in aggression, scent-marking, exploratory activity, and submissive vocalizations, with higher rates in young males, except for submissive vocalizations, which were higher in females (Table 2). Vocalizations and scent-marking behavior increased over time, and were positively correlated with interaction rates.
These data support the hypothesis that female young disperse farther than male young largely as the result of unsuccessful competition with male siblings for available territories close to the birthplace. A dispersal strategy for pikas is proposed.
|Title||Sex differences in the ontogeny of social behavior in pikas: possible relationships to dispersal and territoriality|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|