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Adult-young ratio, a major factor regulating social behaviour of young: a horse study.

Bourjade M, de Boyer des Roches A, Hausberger M - PLoS ONE (2009)

Bottom Line: We found striking variations of aggression rates and spatial relationships related to the adult-young ratio: the lower this ratio, the more the young were aggressive, the more young and adults segregated and the tighter the young bonded to other young.The increase of aggression and the emergence of social segregation in groups with lower proportions of adults could reflect a related decrease of the influence of adults as regulators of the behaviour of young.This social regulation has both theoretical and practical implications for understanding the modalities of the influence of adults during ontogeny and for recommending optimal settings, as for instance, for schooling or animal group management.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Université de Rennes 1, Laboratoire d'Ethologie Animale et Humaine, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Rennes, France. marie.bourjade@gmail.com

ABSTRACT

Background: Adults play an important role in regulating the social behaviour of young individuals. However, a few pioneer studies suggest that, more than the mere presence of adults, their proportions in social groups affect the social development of young. Here, we hypothesized that aggression rates and social cohesion were correlated to adult-young ratios. Our biological model was naturally-formed groups of Przewalski horses, Equus f. przewalskii, varying in composition.

Methodology/principal findings: We investigated the social interactions and spatial relationships of 12 one- and two-year-old Przewalski horses belonging to five families with adult-young ratios (AYR) ranging from 0.67 to 1.33. We found striking variations of aggression rates and spatial relationships related to the adult-young ratio: the lower this ratio, the more the young were aggressive, the more young and adults segregated and the tighter the young bonded to other young.

Conclusion/significance: This is the first study demonstrating a correlation between adult-young ratios and aggression rates and social cohesion of young individuals in a naturalistic setting. The increase of aggression and the emergence of social segregation in groups with lower proportions of adults could reflect a related decrease of the influence of adults as regulators of the behaviour of young. This social regulation has both theoretical and practical implications for understanding the modalities of the influence of adults during ontogeny and for recommending optimal settings, as for instance, for schooling or animal group management.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Aggression by young in relation to adult-young ratios in their family groups.N: number of aggressive interactions performed by young in 10 hours. Kendall partial coefficient correlation, p<0.02.
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pone-0004888-g001: Aggression by young in relation to adult-young ratios in their family groups.N: number of aggressive interactions performed by young in 10 hours. Kendall partial coefficient correlation, p<0.02.

Mentions: Aggression rates and spatial relationships varied significantly with adult-young ratios when the factor group size effect was kept constant (see methods). Adult-young ratios were negatively correlated with aggression rates (Kendall partial coefficient: T = −0.54, p<0.02, Fig. 1), which were up to four times higher in groups with the lowest proportions of adults (Na: mean number of aggressive interactions; Na (AYR = 1.33) = 3.25±1.65; Na (AYR = 0.67) = 13.67±3.71).


Adult-young ratio, a major factor regulating social behaviour of young: a horse study.

Bourjade M, de Boyer des Roches A, Hausberger M - PLoS ONE (2009)

Aggression by young in relation to adult-young ratios in their family groups.N: number of aggressive interactions performed by young in 10 hours. Kendall partial coefficient correlation, p<0.02.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2654111&req=5

pone-0004888-g001: Aggression by young in relation to adult-young ratios in their family groups.N: number of aggressive interactions performed by young in 10 hours. Kendall partial coefficient correlation, p<0.02.
Mentions: Aggression rates and spatial relationships varied significantly with adult-young ratios when the factor group size effect was kept constant (see methods). Adult-young ratios were negatively correlated with aggression rates (Kendall partial coefficient: T = −0.54, p<0.02, Fig. 1), which were up to four times higher in groups with the lowest proportions of adults (Na: mean number of aggressive interactions; Na (AYR = 1.33) = 3.25±1.65; Na (AYR = 0.67) = 13.67±3.71).

Bottom Line: We found striking variations of aggression rates and spatial relationships related to the adult-young ratio: the lower this ratio, the more the young were aggressive, the more young and adults segregated and the tighter the young bonded to other young.The increase of aggression and the emergence of social segregation in groups with lower proportions of adults could reflect a related decrease of the influence of adults as regulators of the behaviour of young.This social regulation has both theoretical and practical implications for understanding the modalities of the influence of adults during ontogeny and for recommending optimal settings, as for instance, for schooling or animal group management.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Université de Rennes 1, Laboratoire d'Ethologie Animale et Humaine, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Rennes, France. marie.bourjade@gmail.com

ABSTRACT

Background: Adults play an important role in regulating the social behaviour of young individuals. However, a few pioneer studies suggest that, more than the mere presence of adults, their proportions in social groups affect the social development of young. Here, we hypothesized that aggression rates and social cohesion were correlated to adult-young ratios. Our biological model was naturally-formed groups of Przewalski horses, Equus f. przewalskii, varying in composition.

Methodology/principal findings: We investigated the social interactions and spatial relationships of 12 one- and two-year-old Przewalski horses belonging to five families with adult-young ratios (AYR) ranging from 0.67 to 1.33. We found striking variations of aggression rates and spatial relationships related to the adult-young ratio: the lower this ratio, the more the young were aggressive, the more young and adults segregated and the tighter the young bonded to other young.

Conclusion/significance: This is the first study demonstrating a correlation between adult-young ratios and aggression rates and social cohesion of young individuals in a naturalistic setting. The increase of aggression and the emergence of social segregation in groups with lower proportions of adults could reflect a related decrease of the influence of adults as regulators of the behaviour of young. This social regulation has both theoretical and practical implications for understanding the modalities of the influence of adults during ontogeny and for recommending optimal settings, as for instance, for schooling or animal group management.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus