acta ethologica

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 1–8 | Cite as

To be or not to be social: foraging associations of free-ranging dogs in an urban ecosystem

  • Sreejani Sen Majumder
  • Anandarup Bhadra
  • Arjun Ghosh
  • Soumitra Mitra
  • Debottam Bhattacharjee
  • Jit Chatterjee
  • Anjan K. Nandi
  • Anindita Bhadra
Original Article

Abstract

Canids display a wide diversity of social systems, from solitary to pairs to packs, and hence, they have been extensively used as model systems to understand social dynamics in natural habitats. Among canids, the dog can show various levels of social organization due to the influence of humans on their lives. Though the dog is known as man’s best friend and has been studied extensively as a pet, studies on the natural history, ecology and behavior of dogs in a natural habitat are rare. Here, we report results of an extensive population-level study conducted through one-time censuses in urban India to understand the foraging associations of free-ranging dogs. We built a model to test if the observed groups could have been formed through random associations while foraging. Our modeling results suggest that the dogs, like all efficient scavengers, tend to forage singly but also form random uncorrelated groups. A closer inspection of the group compositions, however, reveals that the foraging associations are non-random events. The tendency of adults to associate with the opposite sex in the mating season and of juveniles to stay close to adults in the non-mating season drives the population towards specific aggregation. Hence we conclude that to be or not to be social is a matter of choice for the free-ranging dogs, and not a matter of chance.

Keywords

Foraging association Urban ecology Free-ranging dogs Ecoethology 

Supplementary material

10211_2013_158_MOESM1_ESM.docx (560 kb)
ESM 1(DOCX 560 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg and ISPA 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sreejani Sen Majumder
    • 1
  • Anandarup Bhadra
    • 1
  • Arjun Ghosh
    • 1
  • Soumitra Mitra
    • 1
  • Debottam Bhattacharjee
    • 1
  • Jit Chatterjee
    • 1
  • Anjan K. Nandi
    • 2
  • Anindita Bhadra
    • 1
  1. 1.Behaviour and Ecology Lab, Department of Biological SciencesIndian Institute of Science Education and Research—KolkataNadiaIndia
  2. 2.Centre for Ecological SciencesIndian Institute of ScienceBangaloreIndia

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