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African wild dog access to kills

Citation

Jordan, Neil et al. (2021), African wild dog access to kills, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.xgxd254g7

Abstract

Patterns of food sharing in collectively hunting species are likely to influence social dynamics and evolution. Despite this, little is known about competition within social groups at carcasses and other food sources, making the social drivers and implications of food sharing difficult to assess. We quantified carcass access and feeding behavior in free-ranging African wild dogs, Lycaon pictus, at natural kill sites, confirming and quantifying previous descriptions of a youngest-feed-first system. Using data on feeding duration and latency to feed, we confirm that the position in the feeding queue (PFQ) runs from youngest to oldest, except the dominant pair, which generally feed after the pups. We found some evidence that older subdominants were more likely to participate in kills, perhaps because they may only gain access to carcasses at the most profitable early stages of consumption if they make the kill themselves. These dogs were no more likely to initiate hunts or sustain probable hunting-related injuries than were younger dogs with better access. We suggest that allowing younger animals uncontested access to food they have not caught themselves may be an extension of helping behaviour prioritizing those least able to catch food themselves, and that this system may provide anti-kleptoparasitism benefits. Our results contribute to the discussion on the functions and importance of food sharing more broadly.