Cheetahs of the Serengeti Plains: Group Living in an Asocial Species

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University of Chicago Press, Aug 15, 1994 - Nature - 478 pages
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Cheetahs of the Serengeti Plains is the most comprehensive account of carnivore social behavior to date. Synthesizing more than a decade of research in the wild, this book offers a detailed account of the behavior and ecology of cheetahs. Compared with other large cats, and other mammals, cheetahs have an unusual breeding system; whereas lions live in prides and tigers are solitary, some cheetahs live in groups while others live by themselves. Tim Caro explores group and solitary living among cheetahs and discovers that the causes of social behavior vary dramatically, even within a single species.

Why do cheetah cubs stay with their mother for a full year after weaning? Why do adolescents remain in groups? Why do adult males live in permanent associations with each other? Why do adult females live alone? Through observations on the costs and benefits of group living, Caro offers new insight into the complex behavior of this extraordinary species. For example, contrary to common belief about cooperative hunting in large carnivores, he shows that neither adolescents nor adult males benefit from hunting in groups.

With many surprising findings, and through comparisons with other cat species, Caro enriches our understanding of the evolution of social behavior and offers new perspectives on conservation efforts to save this charismatic and endangered carnivore.
 

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Contents

GROUPING AND COOPERATIVE HUNTING
3
Cooperative Hunting in Carnivores
5
Advantages of Studying Cheetahs
7
Disadvantages of Studying Cheetahs
10
Previous Studies
11
Summary
12
SERENGETI AND THE TAXONOMY AND NATURAL HISTORY OF CHEETAHS
15
Morphology and Taxonomy of Cheetahs
30
Resident and Nonresident Males
203
Location of Territories
213
Size of Territories
218
Location and Size of Nonresident Male Ranges
220
Ranging Behavior of Nonresidents in Relation to Residents
223
Benefits Associated with Territoriality
224
Alternative Tactics among Males
226
Summary
227

Distribution and Density
35
Natural History of Cheetahs
38
Summary
46
Statistics
47
SAMPLING METHODS AND TECHNIQUES
49
Information Collected at Each Sighting
51
Recognition of Individuals
56
Criteria Used to Follow Cheetahs
57
Observation Periods
59
Behavioral Observations
60
Immobilization of Cheetahs
68
Estimation of Thomsons Gazelle Birth Peak and Recruitment
71
Comparative Data
72
Summary
75
FEMALE REPRODUCTION AND CUB MORTALITY
77
Patterns of Reproduction
78
Cub Mortality
83
Adoption
89
Periods of Association between Family Members
92
Summary
93
Statistics
94
COSTS OF FAMILY LIFE FOR MOTHERS
97
Changes in Maternal Behavior
98
Energetic Demands of Lactation
103
Changes in Mothers Vigilance
105
Effects of Litter Size on the Behavior of Mothers
108
ShortTerm Benefits of Family Life for Mothers
111
Who Cains Most from Family Dissolution?
113
Summary
116
Statistics
117
BENEFITS OF FAMILY LIFE FOR CUBS
125
Cub Growth in the Lair
126
Food Intake of Cubs
127
Development of Hunting Behavior in Cubs
129
Maternal Encouragement of Offsprings Hunting Skills
136
Changes in the Vigilance of Cubs
141
Cub Vulnerability and Antipredator Behavior
145
Benefits of Mothers Antipredator Behavior
149
Benefits of Parental Care
155
Statistics
157
HUNTING AND GROUPING IN ADOLESCENCE
161
Changes in Prey Preferences with Age
165
Changes in Hunting Behavior with Age
167
Changes in Foraging Success with Age
172
The Influence of Grouping on Prey Preferences and Hunting
176
Adolescent Grouping and Foraging Success
179
The Influence of Grouping on Adolescents Vigilance
180
Deterrence of Predators
183
Reasons for the Dissolution of Sibgroups
185
Female Philopatry
187
Male Dispersal
189
Summary
191
Statistics
192
THE MATING SYSTEM
199
Female Ranging Behavior
201
Statistics
228
TERRITORIALITY AND MALE GROUP SIZE
233
Coalitions of Males
235
Relationship between Coalition Size and Residence
239
Changes in the Pattern of Residence over Time
246
Reproductive Consequences of Male Strategies
251
Summary
254
FORAGING SUCCESS AND COOPERATIVE HUNTING IN MALE GROUPS
259
Prey Preferences and Male Group Size
260
Hunting Behavior and Male Croup Size
263
Foraging Success and Male Group Size
266
General Consequences of Uneven Weight Distribution of Prey
272
Communal Hunting by Coalition Partners
274
Interspecific Competition
280
Reasons for Grouping in Males
283
Summary
284
Statistics
285
THE BEHAVIOR OF MALES IN COALITIONS
291
Behavior between Coalition Members
292
ShortTerm Benefits of Group Living
296
ShortTerm Costs of Croup Living
302
Behavior of Males and Females in Each Others Presence
305
How Egalitarian Are Coalitions?
309
Summary
314
Statistics
315
EVOLUTION AND ECOLOGY OF CHEETAHS
319
Cheetah Life Histories in Relation to Other Felids
320
Cheetah Social Organization in Relation to Other Felids
326
Cooperative Hunting and the Evolution of Sociality
334
Summary
341
Statistics
342
CONSERVATION OF CHEETAHS IN THE WILD AND IN CAPTIVITY
345
Status in the Wild
346
Threats to Cheetah Populations Outside Protected Areas
347
Threats to Cheetah Populations Inside Protected Areas
348
Conservation Implications of Reduced Genetic Variability
352
Problems in Captive Breeding
358
Reintroductions
363
Improving the Cheetahs Chances of Survival
365
Summary
366
Common and Scientific Names of Species Mentioned in the Text
369
Predator Populations and Numbers of Adult Thomsons Gazelles They Killed in the Serengeti Ecosystem
375
Percentage Representation of Prey Species in the Diets of Cheetahs in Different Areas of Africa
379
Weights and Measurements of Adult Cheetahs
382
Description of Subspecies of Acinonyx jubatus
385
Life History Variables of Felid Species
386
Adult Recruitment of Thomsons Gazelles between 1985 and 1989
389
Hunting Attempts and Kills by Female Cheetahs
392
Estimation of Female Home Range Size
394
Estimation of Male Territory Size
396
Hunting Attempts and Kills by Male Cheetahs
398
Number of Adult Thomsons Gazelles Killed by Cheetahs on the Serengeti Plains per Annum
399
Bibliography
403
Index
463
Copyright

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About the author (1994)

T. M. Caro is professor in the Center for Population Biology and the Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology, and a member of the Animal Behavior and Ecology graduate groups at the University of California, Davis.

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