skip to main content

Search for: All records

Award ID contains: 1755089

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Abstract

    Individual differences in behavior are the raw material upon which natural selection acts, but despite increasing recognition of the value of considering individual differences in the behavior of wild animals to test evolutionary hypotheses, this approach has only recently become popular for testing cognitive abilities. In order for the intraspecific approach with wild animals to be useful for testing evolutionary hypotheses about cognition, researchers must provide evidence that measures of cognitive ability obtained from wild subjects reflect stable, general traits. Here, we used a multi-access box paradigm to investigate the intra-individual reliability of innovative problem-solving ability across time and contexts in wild spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta). We also asked whether estimates of reliability were affected by factors such as age-sex class, the length of the interval between tests, or the number of times subjects were tested. We found significant contextual and temporal reliability for problem-solving. However, problem-solving was not reliable for adult subjects, when trials were separated by more than 17 days, or when fewer than seven trials were conducted per subject. In general, the estimates of reliability for problem-solving were comparable to estimates from the literature for other animal behaviors, which suggests that problem-solving is a stable, general traitmore »in wild spotted hyenas.

    « less
  2. Abstract

    Populations of large carnivores are declining in many parts of the world due to anthropogenic activity. Some species of large carnivores, however, are able to coexist with people by altering their behavior. Altered behaviors may be challenging to identify in large carnivores because these animals are typically cryptic, nocturnal, live at low densities, and because changes in their behavior may be subtle or emerge slowly over many years. We studied the effects of livestock presence on the movements of one large carnivore, the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta). We fit 22 adult female spotted hyenas with GPS collars to quantify their movements in areas with and without livestock or herders present, in and around a protected area in southwestern Kenya. We investigated anthropogenic, social, and ecological effects on the speed of movement, distances traveled, long-distance movements, and extraterritorial excursions by spotted hyenas. Hyenas living primarily within the protected area, but in the presence of livestock and herders, moved faster, traveled over longer distances, and were more likely to be within their territories than did conspecifics living in areas without livestock and herders. Hyenas of low social rank were more likely than hyenas of high social rank to engage in long-distancemore »travel events, and these were more likely to occur when prey were scarce. The movement patterns of this large African carnivore indicate a flexibility that may allow them to persist in landscapes that are becoming increasingly defined by people.

    « less
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  4. Hopkins, Jack (Ed.)
    Abstract As fecal steroid methods increasingly are used by researchers to monitor the physiology of captive and wild populations, we need to expand our validation protocols to test the effects of procedural variation and to identify contamination by exogenous sources of steroid hormones. Mammalian carnivore feces often contain large amounts of hair from the prey they consume, which itself may contain high concentrations of hormones. In this study, we report first a validation of two steroid hormone antibodies, corticosterone and progesterone, to determine fecal concentrations of these hormones in wild spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta). Next, we expand on these standard validation protocols to test two additional metrics: (i) whether hair from consumed prey or (ii) the specific drying method (oven incubation vs. lyophilization) affect steroid hormone concentrations in feces. In the first biological validation for the progesterone antibody in this species, progesterone concentrations met our expectations: (i) concentrations of plasma and fecal progesterone were lowest in immature females, higher in lactating females, and highest in pregnant females; (ii) across pregnant females, fecal progesterone concentrations were highest during late pregnancy; and (iii) among lactating females, fecal progesterone concentrations were highest after parturition. Our additional validation experiments indicated that contamination with preymore »hair and drying method are hormone-specific. Although prey hair did not release hormones into samples during storage or extraction for either hormone, its presence appeared to “dilute” progesterone (but not corticosterone) measures indirectly by increasing the dry weight of samples. In addition, fecal progesterone, but not corticosterone, values were lower for lyophilized than for incubated samples. Therefore, in addition to the standard analytical and biological validation steps, additional methodological variables need to be tested whenever we measure fecal hormone concentrations, particularly from predatory mammals.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 27, 2023
  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  6. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  7. Abstract Studies in rodents and captive primates suggest that the early-life social environment affects future phenotype, potentially through alterations to DNA methylation. Little is known of these associations in wild animals. In a wild population of spotted hyenas, we test the hypothesis that maternal care during the first year of life and social connectedness during two periods of early development leads to differences in DNA methylation and fecal glucocorticoid metabolites (fGCMs) later in life. Here we report that although maternal care and social connectedness during the den-dependent life stage are not associated with fGCMs, greater social connectedness during the subadult den-independent life stage is associated with lower adult fGCMs. Additionally, more maternal care and social connectedness after den independence correspond with higher global (%CCGG) DNA methylation. We also note differential DNA methylation near 5 genes involved in inflammation, immune response, and aging that may link maternal care with stress phenotype.
  8. The structure of animal social networks influences survival and reproductive success, as well as pathogen and information transmission. However, the general mechanisms determining social structure remain unclear. Using data from 73,767 social interactions among wild spotted hyenas collected over 27 years, we show that the process of social inheritance determines how offspring relationships are formed and maintained. Relationships between offspring and other hyenas bear resemblance to those of their mothers for as long as 6 years, and the degree of similarity increases with maternal social rank. Mother-offspring relationship strength affects social inheritance and is positively correlated with offspring longevity. These results support the hypothesis that social inheritance of relationships can structure animal social networks and be subject to adaptive tradeoffs.