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Herding mechanisms to maintain the cohesion of a harem group: two interaction phases during herding

Citation

Ringhofer, Monamie et al. (2019), Herding mechanisms to maintain the cohesion of a harem group: two interaction phases during herding, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.zw3r2284j

Abstract

In animal groups, individual interactions achieve coordinated movements to maintain cohesion. In horse harem groups, herding
is a behavior in which males chase females from behind; it is considered to assist with group cohesiveness. However,
the mechanisms by which the individuals move to maintain group cohesion are unknown. We applied novel non-invasive
methods of drone filming and video tracking to observe horse movements in the field with high temporal and spatial resolution.
We tracked all group members and drew trajectories. We analyzed the movements of females and found two phases
of interactions based on their timing of movement initiation. The females that moved first were those nearest to the herding
male, while the movement initiation of the later females was determined by the distance from the nearest moving female, not
by the distance from the herding male. These interactions are unique among animal group movements and might represent a
herding mechanism responsible for maintaining group cohesion. This might be due to long-term stable relationships within
a harem group and strong social bonds between females. This study showed that the combination of drone filming and video
tracking is a useful method for analyzing the movements of animals simultaneously in high resolution.

Funding

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Award: 18K18342

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Award: 15H01619, 15H05309, 17H0582

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Award: LGP-U04

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Award: core-to-core CCSN

Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Award: 16H06283

Kyoto University SPIRITS