Determinants of vigilance behavior in the ring-tailed coati (Nasua nasua): the importance of within-group spatial position


Individuals living in social groups are predicted to live under unequal predation risk due to their spatial location within the group. Previous work has indicated that individuals located at the edge of groups have higher “domains of danger”, thus are more likely to engage in vigilance or antipredator behavior. We studied the determinants of vigilance behavior in two groups of ring-tailed coatis in Iguazu National Park, Argentina. In addition to the expected pattern that coatis were more vigilant at the edge of the group, we found that individuals were particularly vigilant at the front edge of the group. This pattern conforms to predictions of differing predation risk caused by sit-and-wait predators with respect to mobile animal groups. In addition, coatis exhibited less vigilance when the number of neighbors within 5 m and group size increased. Of the three spatial variables tested, within-group spatial position was the most important predictor variable determining vigilance levels. These results confirm that spatial position has major effects on vigilance behavior, and that group directionality is an important factor which should be taken into account when measuring vigilance behavior. Coatis were more vigilant when juveniles less than 6 months old were in the groups. The presence of these young juveniles also affected the relationship between alarm response and vigilance levels. Coatis were more vigilant after strong alarm reactions, but only when young juveniles were not present in the groups. This may indicate that coatis give differential responses to alarm calls depending on the age of the caller. A comparison of antipredator vigilance between coatis and sympatric capuchin monkeys is consistent with the hypothesis that terrestriality leads to higher perceive predation risk for coatis.

DOI: 10.1007/s00265-006-0248-3

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@article{Blanco2006DeterminantsOV, title={Determinants of vigilance behavior in the ring-tailed coati (Nasua nasua): the importance of within-group spatial position}, author={Yamil Di Blanco and Ben T. Hirsch}, journal={Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology}, year={2006}, volume={61}, pages={173-182} }