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Effects of Sex-Associated Competitive Asymmetries on Foraging Group Structure and Despotic Distribution in Andean Condors

José A. Donázar, Alejandro Travaini, Olga Ceballos, Alejandro Rodríguez, Miguel Delibes and Fernando Hiraldo
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Vol. 45, No. 1 (Jan., 1999), pp. 55-65
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4601576
Page Count: 11
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Effects of Sex-Associated Competitive Asymmetries on Foraging Group Structure and Despotic Distribution in Andean Condors
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Abstract

Phenotype-limited interference models assume competitive asymmetries among conspecifics and unequal sharing of resources. Their main prediction is a correlation between dominance status and patch quality: dominant individuals should preferentially exploit better-quality habitats. We tested assumptions and predictions of the phenotype-limited interference model in Andean condors (Vultur gryphus), a New World vulture with strong sexual size dimorphism (males are 30-40% heavier than females). We recorded searching birds in habitats differing in quality: mountains and plains. We also observed scavenging behaviour at 20 sheep carcasses, and videotaped 5 of them. Intraspecific hierarchy at carcasses was based on size: males dominated females and, within each sex, older birds dominated younger ones. Adult males and juvenile females occupied extreme positions in the feeding hierarchy. Aggression was directed at those individuals belonging to lower hierarchical levels. In high-quality areas (mountains), more condors arrived at carcasses. Juvenile females were more often observed searching in low-quality areas (plains), far from breeding areas and main roost sites. GLM analyses of individual behaviour showed that the hierarchy did not influence time of arrival, but low-ranking individuals spent more time at carcasses, especially if the number of condors at arrival was high. Additionally, low-ranking condors spent less time feeding at carcasses when individuals of higher hierarchical levels were present. On the other hand, the number of condors present had a positive effect on feeding rates of dominant individuals, probably because of a reduction in individual vigilance. These results support most of the assumptions and predictions of the phenotype-limited distribution model, although a spatial truncated distribution between phenotypes was not observed. Asymmetric feeding pay-off, unequal parental roles and sexual selection constraints could favour sexual divergence in body size in Andean condors.

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