The ontogeny of time allocation was studied in a field population of black‐tailed prairie dogs, Cynomys ludovicianus. Pups first emerged from their natal burrows in late May. All individuals in the population, including all pups, were observed for 12 weeks following this emergence. Both cross‐sectional and longitudinal analyses of ontogeny revealed considerable age differences. Upon first emergence, pups were extremely wary and spent most of their time vigilant and little time feeding. As pups aged, they increased time spent feeding and decreased time spent vigilant. Male and female pups behaved similarly. Pups differed from adults in their time allocation patterns and these differences changed as pups aged. Pups were initially more vigilant and fed less than adults, but became less vigilant than adults as the summer progressed. Yearlings behaved similarly to adults. Possible intrinsic (e.g., pup age and weight) and extrinsic (e.g., weather conditions, microhabitat location and coterie composition) influences on time allocation by pups were also examined. In general, extrinsic influences appeared to have more impact on pup behavior than intrinsic ones, suggesting that time allocation by pups may be largely context‐dependent. Overall, the considerable number of age differences argues for more consideration of ontogeny in models of antipredator behavior.
Ethology – Wiley
Published: Jan 12, 1992
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