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Title: Scent marking with faeces and anal secretion in the European badger
Author: Davies, J. M.
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 1987
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Abstract:
defend feeding territories, and that the spatinl distribution of 'patches' of earthworms (their major prey) determines the size of badger territories. Such a food-based model has been widely accepted, but has a number of equivocal assumptions which are discussed. Recently Roper, Shepherdson & Davies (1986) proposed an alternative model of territorial organisation, based on the seasonal pattern of territory marking with faeces and anal gland secretion, which suggested that territoriality in badgers may be more related to defence of oestrus females by resident males than to defence of food resources. This hypothesis relies on an un-quantified correlation between seasonal patterns of territory marking, mating and road mortality. Here, I attempt to test the strength of the association between these distributions and to test predictions about the relative contribution of the two sexes to territorial defence. To do this I present further data on the deposition of faeces and anal secretion at latrines, together with new data on the seasonality of road mortality and bite-wounding in badgers. In addition, I report the results of experiments in which latrines were continually monitored in an attempt to assess the relative contribution of the two sexes to territory marking and patrolling. Finally, I report the results of a chemical investigation (using gas chromatography) of the scent profile of anal gland secretion. My results confirm the bimodal seasonal pattern of deposition of faeces and anal secretion at latrines, but whilst the two distributions were similar, there were differences which suggested that the two territorial markers may have different functions. The seasonal pattern of deposition of anal secretion showed essentially the same distribution as data on mating, testis weight, bite wounding and road mortality and I concluded that my results were consistent with the anti-kleptogamy hypothesis. However, the seasonal pattern of deposition of faeces at latrines could more easily be explained by seasonal changes in food availability. My results showed that the incidence of bite wounding and of patrolling at latrines, was higher in males than females, which is consistent with predictions derived from the anti-kleptogamy model, but not with food-based models which predict territory defence to be shared equally amongst group members. Finally, chemical analysis of anal secretion revealed that whilst it probably did not signal the sex or identity of it's producer it may carry information about group membership. In addition, the secretion was found to be of low volatility and composed of long-chain fatty acids some fifteen of which were identified. These results are consistent with the idea that anal secretion acts as a long-term territory marker. In conclusion I suggest that my results for the deposition of anal gland secretion at latrines are consistent with the hypothesis proposed by Roper et al., (1986) that territoriality in badgers may at least be partly linked to the defence of oestrus females by resident males. By contrast seasonal variation in defecation at latrines may at least be partly explained by seasonal changes in food availability. Given that food and mates are the most important resources for the survival of an animal, in the short-term and long-term respectively, it is likely that models of the territorial spacing pattern of badgers would have to take both resources into account.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.233010  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Badger territory marking
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