Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 393–400 | Cite as

Social organization of woodchucks (Marmota monax)

  • Paul T. Meier


The social organization of woodchucks (Marmota monax) in southeast Ohio was studied at two sites, at one for two 2 years (1979–1980) and the other for 3 years (1981–1983). Spatial organization was determined by trapping and radio tracking. The home ranges of adult females did not overlap in the early spring but during late spring and summer there was some overlap (<10%) as females expanded their home ranges. Adult females tended to occupy the same home range in consecutive years. Some adult males occupied well-defined home ranges that did not overlap the home ranges of other males but did overlap extensively the home range of one to three adult females. These males tended to occupy the same home range in consecutive years. Infants used the same home range of their dam until about 2–3 months of age when most males and females apparently dispersed. About 35% of the juvenile females did not disperse until their second spring, just before their mother's new litter first emerged from their burrow. The average social group consisted of an adult male with two female kin groups comprising an adult female, an offspring (usually female) of the previous year, and the young of the year. Interactions within the kin group and with the adult male were relatively frequent and generally amicable. Interactions between kin groups both within and between different social groups were relatively rare and agonistic. The social organization of woodchucks in Ohio differs from that described in previous studies of woodchucks elsewhere and from that predicted by current models proposed by others on the evolution of social organization of marmots.


Social Organization Home Range Adult Male Social Group Adult Female 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul T. Meier
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Zoological and Biomedical SciencesOhio UniversityAthensUSA

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