Female-female aggression in goitered gazelles: the desire for isolation.

Affiliation

Research Center for Ecology and Environment of Central Asia, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; Key Laboratory of Biogeography and Bioresources in Arid Land, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi, China; Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Almaty, Kazakhstan. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

In contrast to males, which compete with other males for access to mates, females compete with each other for forage-rich sites, birthing grounds, comfortable resting places, and access to sources of water and salt licking locations. This behavior has been observed in many species. However, many agonistic interactions between females occur where resources are not immediately at stake, and the reasons for their rivalry are often unclear. Therefore in this paper, I want to analyze the main causes of female-female aggression in the yearly cycle of goitered gazelles. I found that adult females had conflicts moistly with sub-adult females and less with other adult females; and these behaviors were observed mainly in May, with less in June, and only a few cases displayed during the rest of the year. The months of May-June had the most abundant and highest quality forage of the year, when competition for resources would seem to be least expected. Struggles for resting places occurred throughout the entire year, with only some bias for May that did not represent a primary level of aggression. In reality, the high rate of female-female aggressive interactions was related to the protection of birthing grounds, where mothers isolated themselves to give births, establish a strong selective mother-young bonds, keep their hiding fawns separated from alien offspring (having initial problems with distant visual recognition), and protect them against disturbance from all other females, which can undermine a fawn's hidden status and make it more vulnerable to predation.

Keywords

Birthing grounds,Female-female aggression,Gazella subgutturosa,females’ conflict,