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Home-Range Behaviour and Social Organization of Scottish Blackface Sheep

A. B. Lawrence and D. G. M. Wood-Gush
Journal of Applied Ecology
Vol. 25, No. 1 (Apr., 1988), pp. 25-40
DOI: 10.2307/2403607
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2403607
Page Count: 16
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Home-Range Behaviour and Social Organization of Scottish Blackface Sheep
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Abstract

(1) Some Blackface ewes possessed a home-range group structure. They adhered to a common area and did not mix indiscriminately with sheep from adjacent groups. (2) The group occupied two distinct seasonal ranges. The winter range was occupied by the majority of animals from the middle of October to the end of March. The summer range was an expansion of the winter range. (3) Cluster analysis found little variability between individual group members' movement patterns during occupation of the winter range. The expansion into the summer range was accompanied by a considerable increase in the variability of home-range behaviour. Individuals were broadly classified into those that during summer remained within the winter range, those that used both the winter and summer ranges and those that mainly used only the summer range. (4) By dispersing in summer and adopting variable movement patterns, ewes may have benefited by reducing feeding competition, and foraged more efficiently on the patchy distribution of hill pastures and other preferred swards. The summer movement pattern adopted by a mature ewe was probably an elaboration of a movement pattern adopted from her mother in the first summer of life. (5) Individuals tended to use the same area each summer. On return to the winter range, however, animals mixed at random relative to the previous summer. This suggests that specific bonds between individuals are not crucial to the maintenance of sheep home-range groups.

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