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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 24(2)

Social Organisation and Warren Use of the Burrowing Bettong, Bettongia lesueur (Macropodoidea : Potoroidae)

Ute Sander, Jeff Short and Bruce Turner

Wildlife Research 24(2) 143 - 157
Published: 1997

Abstract

This study describes the use of warrens and aspects of the social organisation of a population of the burrowing bettong, an endangered potoroid. Observations were made on 14 animals, maintained in a 4-ha enclosure of natural vegetation at Shark Bay, Western Australia. The population divided into three social groups, each of one male and one to many females. Individual bettongs used 1–10 warrens over a period of five months. Males changed warrens more often than females. Some females regularly shared warrens with other females. Many of these associations appeared to be mothers with their daughter or daughters. Sharing of warrens occurred regularly until the daughters were about 10 months old and occasionally after that. Day ranges of males were larger than those of females, exclusive of other males, and overlapped those of 1–6 females. Males shared warrens with the females within their day range. At night bettongs were not constrained to their day range and made use of the whole enclosure. Equal numbers of agonistic interactions between and within day-range groups, as well as the absence of feeding associations, indicated that bettongs operated independently of their day-range groups at night while feeding. Bettongs formed a weak dominance hierarchy with the oldest female on top and a young male at the bottom. Male–male interactions tended to be more aggressive than male–female interactions. Males were involved in significantly more agonistic interactions, particularly chases, than were females; chases usually entailed chasing another male away from a female. Use of space and social behaviour suggested a polygynous mating system.



Full text doi:10.1071/WR96021

© CSIRO 1997

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