Sex differences in territorial behavior exhibited by the spotted hyena (Hyaenidae, Crocuta crocuta)

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Spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) are gregarious carnivores that defend group territories against encroachment by neighboring conspecifics. Here we monitored the behavior of members of one clan of free-ranging spotted hyenas during border patrols, ‘wars’ with neighboring clans, and other interactions with alien intruders, to document differences between the sexes in territorial behavior in this species. We also examined the possibility that the probability or rate of attack on alien hyenas encountered within the clan’s territory would vary with the sex of the intruders. Initiation and leadership of most cooperative territorial behaviors were by adult female clan members, although border patrols were occasionally conducted by groups composed exclusively of resident males. The vast majority of alien intruders into the territory of the study clan were males. Resident females were more likely to attack intruding females than intruding males, but hourly rates of aggression directed by females towards aliens did not vary with intruder sex. Resident males were more likely than resident females to attack alien males, and resident males directed significantly higher hourly rates of aggression towards intruding males than females. Although female leadership in most cooperative territorial behaviors distinguishes spotted hyenas from many mammalian carnivores, other sex differences in the territorial behavior of spotted hyenas resemble those documented in other gregarious predators. Sex differences observed in hyena territoriality are consistent with the hypothesis that male and female clan members derive different selective benefits from advertisement and defense of group territories.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Sex differences in territorial behavior exhibited by the spotted hyena (Hyaenidae, Crocuta crocuta)
Series title Ethology
DOI 10.1046/j.1439-0310.2001.00672.x
Volume 107
Issue 5
Year Published 2001
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 17 p.
First page 369
Last page 385
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