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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: The effect of group size on vigilance in a semi-solitary, fossorial marsupial (Lasiorhinus latifrons)
Authors: Descovich, Kristin
Lisle, Allan
Johnston, Stephen
Phillips, Clive
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Keywords: burrow, group size, marsupial, sociality, vigilance, wombat
Issue Date: Nov-2013
Publisher: Elsevier
Citation: Descovich K, Lisle A, Johnston S & Phillips C (2013) The effect of group size on vigilance in a semi-solitary, fossorial marsupial (Lasiorhinus latifrons), Behavioural Processes, 100, pp. 208-213.
Abstract: Prey species that congregate gain protection against predatory attacks and this advantage is often reflected by a reduction in vigilance behaviour by individuals in larger groups. Comparatively few studies have investigated vigilance in solitary animals, but those that have, found that vigilance increases as group size increases because of the threat posed by conspecifics and/or competition for resources. The southern hairy nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons) is a large fossorial, nocturnal marsupial that is neither strictly solitary nor gregarious, sharing warren systems with multiple conspecifics. We investigated the effects of conspecific presence on vigilance behaviour in this semi-solitary species. We observed wild-born, adult L. latifrons wombats in three group sizes, (Large (1♂, 3♀), Medium (1♂, 2♀) and Small (1♂, 1♀) in a captive, naturalistic environment that allowed above-ground and den behaviour monitoring. Vigilance behaviours were performed less frequently by wombats in large groups (e.g. scanning, counts/day, Large: 55, Medium: 69, Small: 115, P = 0.002) and more frequently as the distance from their nearest conspecific increased (r64 = 0.30, P = 0.016). Vigilance within burrows was also affected by social influences, with solitary wombats significantly more vigilant than those denning with a conspecific (e.g. scanning: conspecific absent: 0.13 / 5 min, present: 0.03/ 5 min, P < 0.0001). It is concluded that the presence of conspecifics reduces vigilance in L. latifrons wombats, even within burrows, and this may partially explain the occurrence of warren sharing in the wild.
Type: Journal Article
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Rights: Published in Behavioural Processes by Elsevier; Elsevier believes that individual authors should be able to distribute their accepted author manuscripts for their personal voluntary needs and interests, e.g. posting to their websites or their institution’s repository, e-mailing to colleagues. The Elsevier Policy is as follows: Authors retain the right to use the accepted author manuscript for personal use, internal institutional use and for permitted scholarly posting provided that these are not for purposes of commercial use or systematic distribution. An "accepted author manuscript" is the author’s version of the manuscript of an article that has been accepted for publication and which may include any author-incorporated changes suggested through the processes of submission processing, peer review, and editor-author communications.
Affiliation: Psychology
University of Queensland
University of Queensland
University of Queensland

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