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Influence of sex, season, temperature and reproductive status on daily activity patterns in Sardinian mouflon (Ovis orientalis musimon)

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We analysed the influence of light/dark cycle, temperature, sex, season, and reproductive status on the daily activity patterns of 26 radiocollared mouflons (17 females, 9 males) in Sardinia. Data on their daily activity were collected from January 2006 to August 2007. Activity levels showed a 24-h bimodal pattern characterized by periodic cycles with increases and decreases peaking at dawn and dusk respectively. Beside being influenced by environmental temperatures, mouflons adjusted their daily activity seasonally and according to light/dark cycles. Only males significantly decreased their activity level in winter, i.e., when temperatures were lower, thus suggesting that males might be more sensitive to the cold winter weather than females. Males were generally less active than females presumably on account of the allometric relationship between body size and activity. However, as a consequence of the reproductive spur, males and females showed similar activity levels during the autumnal rutting season. In summer males and females without lamb significantly decreased their activity levels during the day, when the highest temperatures were recorded, while females with lamb did not. In fact, during the lambing season (late spring, summer) females with lamb persisted in being active during the day despite the increase of air temperature.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology and Evolutionary Genetics, University of Sassari, Via Muroni 25 I-07100, Sassari, Italy

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