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Determinants of home range overlap in the Montane grass mouse (Akodon montensis): implications for territorial and mating systems

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Gabriela de Lima Marin
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Master's Dissertation
Press: São Paulo.
Institution: Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Instituto de Biociências (IBIOC/SB)
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Renata Pardini; Gustavo Requena Santos; Marcus Vinícius Vieira
Advisor: Renata Pardini

Territories result from interference competition that leads to exclusive use of space. Territoriality thus depends on the spatial and temporal variation in resource availability, and is usually associated with mating systems. Territorial defense should occur when benefits outweigh costs, and this balance should be determined by ecological factors (resource availability and population density), as well as individual (gender and sexual maturity) or seasonal (breeding season) variations that determine which and when resources are important. Although individual territorial strategies should vary with changing environmental conditions, possibly leading to multiple territorial⁄mating systems among populations, previous studies on territoriality focused mostly on single populations and/or on relatively homogeneous environmental conditions. Relying on an extensive capture-recapture dataset from 9 populations of a generalist rodent (Akodon montensis), and using home range overlap as a proxy of non-territoriality, we aim to understand the ecological, individual and seasonal determinants of individual territorial strategies, and investigate whether variation in individual strategies can lead to transitions between territorial⁄mating systems. We identified that home range overlap was larger between males than females and increased with population density, as expected. It also increased from immature to mature individuals among males, but the opposite was true among females, suggesting that differences in territoriality between genders is established after sexual maturity. The negative effect of female availability on home range overlap between males was stronger in the breeding season, as expected. More importantly, though, the effect of female availability on home range overlap was strongly gender dependent. As female availability increased, home range overlap increased between females but decreased between males, suggesting that when females become non-territorial (and thus more aggregated) because of increased competition with other females, males become territorial. Our study highlights territorial strategies are extremely variable among individuals, which is consistent with previously reported ecological and physiological plasticity in Akodon montensis, and suggests that sufficient changes in environmental conditions could lead to transitions between territorial⁄mating systems (AU)

FAPESP's process: 14/05358-3 - Determinants of home range size and territoriality in small mammals
Grantee:Gabriela de Lima Marin
Support type: Scholarships in Brazil - Master