Social dynamics, Kinship, and Population Dynamics of marmot
Departement of Systematics and Ecology,
The University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045-2106 USA
Probably the social systems of all marmot species, except M. monax are based on kinship and most species have a family with a dominant breeding pair and non-breeding subordinates. Social behavior of closely-related animals is primarily amicable whereas agonistic behavior characterizes the social interactions of more distantly-related or unrelated individuals. All social groups are characterized by reproductive suppression of younger/subordinate animals by older/dominant individuals. Only the solitary M. monax lacks reproductive suppression among adults. Population growth occurs when offspring are retained in their natal group. Recruitment of offspring occurs when they are treated cohesively; dispersal is associated with either a lack of cohesive behaviors or the presence of agonistic behaviors. Population saturation probably occurs in all species and the lack of nutritious food is proposed as the limiting factor. Major population decline usually is associated with unusual weather; e. g. drought or prolonged winter. The availability of wide-spread habitat provided ecological release that permitted M. monax and M. flaviventris to evolve different social systems as a mechanism for escaping reproductive suppression.
Key-words : Marmots, Reproductive suppression, kinship, ecological release, social dynamics.
|Solitary||Male pobably polygynous. Little overlap of female home ranges.||M. monax||Meier 1992|
|Monogamous||Family groups with dominant reproductive pair.|
Non reproductive adults frequently present.
Little home range overlap with neighboring families.
|M. marmota||Perrin et al
Mann & Janeau 1988
|Colonies consist of two or more family groups.|
Probably characteristic of all the Eurasian species.
Polyandry possible in those species in which two or more adult males are present
M. broweri (?)
|Bibikov 1995 and |
Rausch & Rausch 1971
|Most often monogamous.||M. vancouverensis||
Bryant 1994 |
|Polygynous||An adult male, two adult females, and a litter of yearlings and/or young occasionally some 2-yr-olds.||M. olympus||Barash 1973|
|An adult male, two or three adult females, two or three 2-yr-olds, yearlings and young.||M. caligata||Barash 1974a|
|Some populations monogamous |
An adult male associated with one or more matrilines of related females.
|M. flaviventris||Armitage 1994|
|Species||Young||Yearling||Young & Yearling||2-yr-old||3 or older||References |
|M. caudata||46-70 (young, yearling & 2-yr-old)||30-54||Kiziliov & Berendyaev 1978* |
|Mongolia (ave. of 4 yrs)||45||11||44||Bibikov 1995|
|Tien Shan||35||13||52||Bibikov 1967*|
|M. bobac shaganensis||35||28||38||Shubin 1988*|
|M. menzbieri||26||29||45||Mashkin 1981*|
|natural colony||14||7||29||50||Bryant 1994|
|M. marmota||28||21||24||28||Perrin et al. 1993a|
|33||12||12||43||Sala et al. 1992|
|(3-year average)||31||24||13||32||Barash 1973|
|(32-year average)||37||22||45||Schwartz et al . 1994|
|M. monax||39||61 (yearlings & adults)||Snyder 1962|
|48||20||31 (aged 2 or older)||Nuckle & Bergeron 1983|
|Species||Age of First Reproduction||Percentage of adult females that breed||Reference|
|M. monax||1||72||Snyder & Christian 1960|
|M. baibacina||2||22||Chervyakova & Bibikov 1971*, Bibikov 1989*|
|M. marmota||2||36||Sala et al. 1992, Perrin et al . 1993a, Mann et al. 1993|
|M. vancouverensis||3||53||Bryant 1994|
|M. olympus||3||41||Barash 1973|
|M. caligata||3||43||Barash 1989|
|M. flaviventris||2||52||Armitage 1991|
|3% of 2-yr-old, 20% of 3-yr-old, 45% of 4-yr-old, and up to 70% of older females breed||Chervyakova & Bibikov 1971*|
|3% of 2-yr-old, 18% of 3-yr-old, 39% of 4-yr-old, and 54% of aged 5 or older breed||Bibikov 1967*|
|reduced proportion of breeding females with increased population density, 75% at low to 47% at high||Pole 1992|
|increased breeding in 2-yr-old animals in reduced population Pole &||Bibikov 1991*|
|decreased litter size with increased density||Mikhailyuta 1983*
|none of 47 animals under age 3 bred||Bibikov 1995
|proportion of breeding females and litter size decline at high density, about 25% of 2-yr-old animals breed at low density||Bibikov 1991*
|non breeding subadults||Mann & Janeau 1988|
|non breeding subordinate adults||Arnold 1990
|most females do not breed until age 4 or older (x = 4.38 yrs)||Bryant 1994
|reproductive skipping when co-resident breeds, subordinate females produce half as many young as dominant females Wasser &||Barash 1983
|lowered reproduction in 2-yr-old females when adult females, including their mothers, are present||Armitage 1989|
|weaning succes lower in females living in proximity to other adult females than in those living solitarily, reduced litter production in larger harems||Armitage 1986a
|more yearling females breed at low population density||Snyder 1962|
Social systems of marmots
Social systems and survivorship
Social behavior and kinship
In general, monogamous family groups are characterized by a lack of agonistic behavior, which occurs mainly when family units are disrupted (Bibikov 1995). In M. menzbieri, greetings and groomings predominate within the family group and agonistic behavior is directed toward intruders at the edge of the family range (Mashkin 1983, cited in Bibikov 1995). In the Kazakhstan bobac ( M. bobac), 87% of the social contacts were greetings and groomings, agonistic contacts occurred at the boundaries of family territories between adult resident males (Shubin 1988, cited in Bibikov 1995). Among M. marmota, agonistic behavior was much less frequent than cohesive behavior and mostly involved unfamiliar adult males. Agonistic behavior was more likely to occur between members of different groups (Perrin et al. 1993b).
Behavior, Kinship and population dynamics
The saturation hypothesis
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