Group territoriality and the benefits of sociality in the African lion, Panthera leo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

142 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We analysed 38 years of data on 46 lion prides in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, and found that territorial competition directly affected critical components of female fitness and that larger prides gained and maintained access to the highest-quality habitat. Neighbours had a significant negative effect on female reproductive success and survival, and larger prides were significantly more likely to maintain control of disputed areas and to improve the quality of their territories. Adult females were significantly less likely to be alone when a pride had more neighbours, suggesting sensitivity to risk of encounter. In most cases, the effects of intergroup territorial competition were associated only with prides that had not recently split (i.e. that were not closely related). Overall, males were more important in group-territorial competition than expected, and female mortality and wounding rates were significantly associated with male neighbours, suggesting that males may use lethal aggression to tip the balance of power in favour of their prides. Within the Felidae, only lions are consistently gregarious, and our research illustrates that numerical advantage in territorial competition is a primary benefit of group living in lions and may have been important in the evolution of lion sociality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-370
Number of pages12
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume78
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2009

Fingerprint

territoriality
Panthera leo
wounding
Felidae
habitat quality
aggression
Tanzania
reproductive success
national parks
national park
fitness
mortality
habitats
effect

Keywords

  • aggression
  • competition
  • evolution
  • fission-fusion
  • geographical information system
  • group territoriality
  • lion
  • Panthera leo
  • sociality

Cite this

Group territoriality and the benefits of sociality in the African lion, Panthera leo. / Mosser, Anna; Packer, Craig.

In: Animal Behaviour, Vol. 78, No. 2, 01.08.2009, p. 359-370.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{0b8cc816132a4dfeab9939f0f27acfa7,
title = "Group territoriality and the benefits of sociality in the African lion, Panthera leo",
abstract = "We analysed 38 years of data on 46 lion prides in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, and found that territorial competition directly affected critical components of female fitness and that larger prides gained and maintained access to the highest-quality habitat. Neighbours had a significant negative effect on female reproductive success and survival, and larger prides were significantly more likely to maintain control of disputed areas and to improve the quality of their territories. Adult females were significantly less likely to be alone when a pride had more neighbours, suggesting sensitivity to risk of encounter. In most cases, the effects of intergroup territorial competition were associated only with prides that had not recently split (i.e. that were not closely related). Overall, males were more important in group-territorial competition than expected, and female mortality and wounding rates were significantly associated with male neighbours, suggesting that males may use lethal aggression to tip the balance of power in favour of their prides. Within the Felidae, only lions are consistently gregarious, and our research illustrates that numerical advantage in territorial competition is a primary benefit of group living in lions and may have been important in the evolution of lion sociality.",
keywords = "aggression, competition, evolution, fission-fusion, geographical information system, group territoriality, lion, Panthera leo, sociality",
author = "Anna Mosser and Craig Packer",
year = "2009",
month = "8",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.04.024",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "78",
pages = "359--370",
journal = "Animal Behaviour",
issn = "0003-3472",
publisher = "Academic Press Inc.",
number = "2",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Group territoriality and the benefits of sociality in the African lion, Panthera leo

AU - Mosser, Anna

AU - Packer, Craig

PY - 2009/8/1

Y1 - 2009/8/1

N2 - We analysed 38 years of data on 46 lion prides in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, and found that territorial competition directly affected critical components of female fitness and that larger prides gained and maintained access to the highest-quality habitat. Neighbours had a significant negative effect on female reproductive success and survival, and larger prides were significantly more likely to maintain control of disputed areas and to improve the quality of their territories. Adult females were significantly less likely to be alone when a pride had more neighbours, suggesting sensitivity to risk of encounter. In most cases, the effects of intergroup territorial competition were associated only with prides that had not recently split (i.e. that were not closely related). Overall, males were more important in group-territorial competition than expected, and female mortality and wounding rates were significantly associated with male neighbours, suggesting that males may use lethal aggression to tip the balance of power in favour of their prides. Within the Felidae, only lions are consistently gregarious, and our research illustrates that numerical advantage in territorial competition is a primary benefit of group living in lions and may have been important in the evolution of lion sociality.

AB - We analysed 38 years of data on 46 lion prides in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, and found that territorial competition directly affected critical components of female fitness and that larger prides gained and maintained access to the highest-quality habitat. Neighbours had a significant negative effect on female reproductive success and survival, and larger prides were significantly more likely to maintain control of disputed areas and to improve the quality of their territories. Adult females were significantly less likely to be alone when a pride had more neighbours, suggesting sensitivity to risk of encounter. In most cases, the effects of intergroup territorial competition were associated only with prides that had not recently split (i.e. that were not closely related). Overall, males were more important in group-territorial competition than expected, and female mortality and wounding rates were significantly associated with male neighbours, suggesting that males may use lethal aggression to tip the balance of power in favour of their prides. Within the Felidae, only lions are consistently gregarious, and our research illustrates that numerical advantage in territorial competition is a primary benefit of group living in lions and may have been important in the evolution of lion sociality.

KW - aggression

KW - competition

KW - evolution

KW - fission-fusion

KW - geographical information system

KW - group territoriality

KW - lion

KW - Panthera leo

KW - sociality

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=68349141656&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=68349141656&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.04.024

DO - 10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.04.024

M3 - Article

VL - 78

SP - 359

EP - 370

JO - Animal Behaviour

JF - Animal Behaviour

SN - 0003-3472

IS - 2

ER -