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Title: Genetic relatedness and space use in two populations of striped hyenas (Hyaena hyaena)
Abstract Surprising social complexity and variability have recently been documented in several mammalian species once believed to be strictly solitary, and variation in resource abundance may drive this variation in sociality. Wagner et al. (Wagner, A. P., S. Creel, L. G. Frank, and S. T. Kalinowski. 2007. Patterns of relatedness and parentage in an asocial, polyandrous striped hyena population. Molecular Ecology 16:4356–4369) reported unusual space-use patterns among female striped hyenas (Hyaena hyaena) in central Kenya, where pairwise relatedness among females increased with the geographic distance separating them. The authors suggested that this pattern, very rare among mammals, might reflect attempts by females to avoid competition with close relatives for scarce resources in areas of range overlap. Here, we compare those data to new data, documenting genetic relatedness and space use in a previously unstudied wild population of striped hyenas in southern Kenya. We tested hypotheses suggesting that resource abundance and population density affect patterns of genetic relatedness and geographic distance in this species. Our results suggest that higher per capita prey density results in relaxed competition for food, and greater social tolerance among female striped hyenas. An hypothesis suggesting lower population density in the southern population was not supported. Relaxed resource competition may also lead to female–female cooperation in the southern population; we documented for the first time behavioral evidence of den sharing by adult female striped hyenas. Our data indicate that different populations of this little-studied species exhibit behavioral plasticity, in this case, markedly different space-use patterns and patterns of spatial relatedness under different ecological conditions.  more » « less
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Journal of Mammalogy
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National Science Foundation
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