Identifying The Individual

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From the variety of ways of identifying individuals reviewed by Stonehouse (1978), it is generally preferable to use natural characteristics. This necessitates validation of identification skills and it is imperative that behavior is not inadvertently used as a cue to identity. For scientific as well as ethical reasons, it is also important to be alert to any influences of a marking technique on subsequent behavior. For example, in an analysis of a new fur-clipping technique used to mark badgers for individual identification, Stewart and Macdonald (1997) assessed the effect of the clips on body condition using a matched-samples test. Our concern was that the technique could cause thermoregulatory disadvantage, and no significant effect of clipping on condition was found. Furthermore, marked individuals were capable of attaining high status in their group, as measured among males by copulation frequency during female

Figure 10.9 (A) The flow of rubbing between a group of four cats studied by Macdonald et al. (1987) was much less than that of grooming, and the two differed in that rubbing relationships tended to be highly asymmetric whereas grooming ones were symmetric. Furthermore, whereas the flow of grooming tended to mirror indices of association, those of rubbing and aggression did not, but the latter two were correlated with each other but not with grooming. (B) Superimposed on these patterns, relationships were modified by kinship and age; for example, female 68 (in Kerby and Mac-donald's [1988] large colony) interacted more with her sisters than her adult daughters, and more with these 5 close kin than with the 12 other females available to her.

Figure 10.9 (A) The flow of rubbing between a group of four cats studied by Macdonald et al. (1987) was much less than that of grooming, and the two differed in that rubbing relationships tended to be highly asymmetric whereas grooming ones were symmetric. Furthermore, whereas the flow of grooming tended to mirror indices of association, those of rubbing and aggression did not, but the latter two were correlated with each other but not with grooming. (B) Superimposed on these patterns, relationships were modified by kinship and age; for example, female 68 (in Kerby and Mac-donald's [1988] large colony) interacted more with her sisters than her adult daughters, and more with these 5 close kin than with the 12 other females available to her.

estrus. It is logically impossible to be certain that clip marks had no effect on behavior, but as in the case of Hoogland's (1995) Nyanzol dye-marked ground squirrels, we could detect no evidence that it did. However, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, so caution is necessary. For example, bird rings or ear tags have been demonstrated to affect judgments of asymmetry and mate choice in some species (Burley 1988). This topic is further discussed by Bekoff and Jamieson (1997) (see also Moehrenschlager et al. in press). In a similar way, names of animals should be carefully chosen to avoid biasing behavioral observation of social role. The name given to an animal, be it that of a colleague, friend, or personality, can inadvertently influence all but the most objective observer. Even ascribing "male" and "female" names can cause recording biases. Numbers are better (although "A1" may still find deferential recording to "C5"), but can be rather hard to remember. In our own badger study we primarily used names derived from the appearance of the identifying fur clip mark, giving asexual and fairly connotation-free names such as Line, Dot, Dash, and Corners.

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