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Interspecific Agonism Between Two Sympatric Species of Ctenomys (Rodentia: Octodontidae) in Captivity

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The interspecific agonism between two sympatric species of Ctenomys (C. talarum and C. australis) was studied by means of experimental encounters at the laboratory. Aggression took place in relation to occupation and defence of the Resource Cage (RC: food and space) and Home Cage (HC: own or foreign). Opponent's retreat was preceded by fighting behaviors (animal advancing forward; biting) or without apparent aggression. The species that is two times bigger.-C. australis-dominates the other-C. talarum-. However, the results do not demonstrate that C. australis is more aggressive. C. australis entered the RC more often, stayed longer there, less often brought food to the HC, while C. talarum move food to its HC. The ordination and classification of individuals according to their behavior shows species and sex segregation. Species differences supports the interpretation that a bigger individual is avoided more than a smaller one: C. talarum evades C. australis without apparent aggression. A hierarchical interspecific dominance was very distinguishable with our experimental design. We suggest that the habitat segregation pattern observed in the field results, probably, from interspecific interaction.

Affiliations: 1: Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Casilla de Correo 1245, (7600) Mar del Plata, Argentina


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