Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If You Use a Screen Reader

This content is available through Read Online (Free) program, which relies on page scans. Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.

Why Are Female Small Mammals Territorial?

Jerry O. Wolff
Oikos
Vol. 68, No. 2 (Nov., 1993), pp. 364-370
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos
DOI: 10.2307/3544853
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3544853
Page Count: 7
  • Read Online (Free)
  • Subscribe ($19.50)
  • Cite this Item
Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Why Are Female Small Mammals Territorial?
Preview not available

Abstract

I question the widely accepted view that female small mammals are territorial to defend food, and suggest that theoretical and empirical evidence are more compatible with a pup-defense hypothesis to protect young from infanticide. The fact that females are territorial during the time of greatest food abundance and not during food limitation (such as winter) contradicts a food-defense hypothesis. Energy conservation through huddling does not appear sufficient to explain shared use of space during nonbreeding seasons. Aggression and territorial defense are most intense during lactation and are directed toward other females, those most likely to commit infanticide, and not toward males and other food competitors. Plasticity in territoriality and shared use of space are more closely associated with lactation, density dependent factors, and overlap of kin groups than to species-specific food habits. Thus, distribution, abundance, and type of food resource do not in themselves explain female territoriality. As female spacing patterns play an important role in behavioral and population ecology, an understanding of the proximate causation and ultimate benefits of territoriality is essential to comprehending small mammal population dynamics. I recommend that future studies on female spacing patterns take into consideration population density and kin groups, and use an experimental design that tests the predictions of alternative hypotheses.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
364
    364
  • Thumbnail: Page 
365
    365
  • Thumbnail: Page 
366
    366
  • Thumbnail: Page 
367
    367
  • Thumbnail: Page 
368
    368
  • Thumbnail: Page 
369
    369
  • Thumbnail: Page 
370
    370