Forced dispersal of juvenile guanacos (Lama guanicoe): causes, variation, and fates of individuals dispersing at different times

Abstract

We examined adult-juvenile conflict in the guanaco (Lama guanicoe). During spring, territorial males become increasingly aggressive toward all juveniles born the previous year and begin expelling them from family groups. In an apparent effort to reduce aggression, juveniles display submissive crouches when being observed, approached, or attacked by the territorial male. Therefore, we assessed the influence of juvenile submissive behavior on the timing of dispersal and also examined if dispersal time was related to survival and reproductive performance as adults. We also evaluated hypotheses regarding the evolution of juvenile mammalian dispersal in the context of if and how each may favor the forced dispersal of juvenile guanacos by territorial males. Juveniles generally dispersed in late spring and early summer, and a nearly equal proportion of females (n=46; 48%) and males (n=49; 52%) dispersed. More-submissive animals generally dispersed later than less-submissive animals. Juvenile sex and dispersal time were not related to survival. In contrast, juvenile sex and dispersal time were related to reproductive performance. The probability of reproducing was highest when juveniles dispersed early and decreased with increasing time in family groups prior to dispersal. The largest proportion of juveniles was forced to disperse during a 2-week interval following the peak of the breeding season. Competition for food resources is likely very intense at this juncture and territorial males may force older juveniles to disperse in order to divert food resources to younger neonates. Additionally, juveniles may be forced to disperse after territorial males mate their mothers to prevent lost mating opportunities, because females leave territories when their offspring disperse and possibly prior to mating with males. We conclude that the forced dispersal of juvenile guanacos by territorial males is ultimately driven by competition for food resources on territories. The timing of dispersal, however, may be tempered by the chronology of matings between territorial males and particular adult females, and/or genetic relatedness between territorial males and juveniles.

DOI: 10.1007/s00265-003-0644-x

Cite this paper

@article{Sarno2003ForcedDO, title={Forced dispersal of juvenile guanacos (Lama guanicoe): causes, variation, and fates of individuals dispersing at different times}, author={Ronald J. Sarno and Michael S. Bank and Hal S. Stern and William L. Franklin}, journal={Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology}, year={2003}, volume={54}, pages={22-29} }