Social Ecology of Horses

  • Konstanze Krueger

Horses (Equidae ) are believed to clearly demonstrate the links between ecology and social organization. Their social cognitive abilities enable them to succeed in many different environments, including those provided for them by humans, or the ones domestic horses encounter when escaping from their human care takers. Living in groups takes different shapes in equids. Their aggregation and group cohesion can be explained by Hamilton’s selfish herd theory. However, when an individual joins and to which group it joins appears to be an active individual decision depending on predation pressure, intra group harassment and resource availability. The latest research concerning the social knowledge horses display in eavesdropping experiments affirms the need for an extension of simple herd concepts in horses for a cognitive component. Horses obviously realize the social composition of their group and determine their own position in it. The horses exceedingly flexible social behavior demands for explanations about the cognitive mechanisms, which allow them to make individual decisions. “Ecology conditions like those that favour the evolution of open behavioural programs sometimes also favour the evolution of the beginnings of consciousness, by favouring conscious choice. Or in other words, consciousness originates with the choice that are left open by open behavioural programs.” Popper (1977)

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bannikov AG (1971) The Asiatic Wild Ass: neglected relative of the horse. Animalia 13:580-585Google Scholar
  2. Berger J (1977) Organizational systems and dominance in feral horses in the Grand Canyon. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 2:131-146Google Scholar
  3. Berger J (1986) Wild horses of the great basin. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  4. Cameron EZ, Linklater WL, Stafford KJ, Minot Edward EO (2003) Social grouping and maternal behaviour in feral horses (Equus caballus): the influence of males on maternal protectiveness. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 53:92-101Google Scholar
  5. Clutton-Brock J (1981) Domesticated animals, from early times. London: British Museum of Natural History, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. Clutton-Brock J, Parker GA (1995) Sexual coercion in animal societies. Anim Behav 49:1345-1365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Connor RC, Wells RS, Mann J, Read AJ (2000) The bottlenose dolphin: social relationships in a fission-fusion society. In: Mann J, Connor RC, Tyack PL, Whitehead H (eds) Cetacean societies: field studies of dolphins and whales. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 91-126Google Scholar
  8. DeWaal F (1982) Chimpanzee politics: power and sex among apes. Harper and Row, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. Dugatkin LA (2001) Bystander effects and the structure of dominance hierarchies, Behav Ecol 12 3:348-352CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Duncan P (1980) Time-budgets of Camargue horses, 2: time-budget of adult horses and weaned sub-adults. Behaviour 72:26-49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Duncan P (1992) Horses and grasses. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. Duncan P, Vigne N (1979) The effects of group size in horses on the rate of attacks by blood-sucking flies. Anim Behav 17:623-625CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dyer FC (2000) Group movement and individual cognition: lessons from social insects. In: Boinski S, Garber PA (eds) On the move: how and why animals move in groups. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 127-164Google Scholar
  14. Eisenberg JF (1981) The mammalian radiations: an analysis of trends in evolution, adaptation and behaviour. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  15. Ellard M-E, Crowell-Davis SL (1989) Evaluating equine dominance in draft mares. Appl Anim Behav Sci 24:55-75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Feh C (1988) Social behaviour and relationships of Przewalski’s horses in Dutch semi-reserves. Appl Anim Behav 21:71-87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Feh C (1999) Alliances and reproductive success in Camargue stallions. Anim Behav 57:705-713CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Feh C (2001) Alliances between stallions are more than just multimale groups: reply to Linklater and Cameron (2000) Anim Behav 61:F27-F30Google Scholar
  19. Gates S (1979) A study of home ranges of free-ranging Exmoore ponies. Mamm Rev 9:3-18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Geist V (1978) Life strategies, human evolution, environmental design: toward a biological theory of health. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. Ginsberg JR (1988) Social organisation and mating strategies of an arid adapted equid: the Grevy’s zebra. PhD Thesis, Princeton University, Princeton, 268 ppGoogle Scholar
  22. Goldschmidt-Rothschild Bv, Tschanz B (1978) Soziale Organisation und Verhalten einer Jungtierherde beim Camargue-Pferd. Z Tierpsychol, pp 372-400Google Scholar
  23. Hamilton WD (1971) Geometry for the selfish herd. J Theor Biol 31:295-311CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Heitor F, do Mar Oom M, Vicente L (2006a) Social relationships in a herd of Sorraia horses: Part I. Correlates of social dominance and contexts of aggression. Behav Proc 73:170-177; doi:10.1016/j.beproc.2006.05.004CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Heitor F, do Mar Oom M, Vicente L (2006b) Part II. Factors affecting affiliative relationships and sexual behaviours. Behav Proc 73:231-239; doi:10.1016/j.beproc.2006.05.004CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Houpt KA, Wolski TR (1980) Stability of equine hierarchies and the prevention of dominance related aggression. Equ Vet J 12:18-24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Houpt KA, Law K, Martinisi V (1978) Dominance hierarchies in domestic horses. Appl Anim Ethol 4:273-283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Houston AI, McNamara JM (1988) Fighting for food: a dynamic version of the Hawk-Dove game. Evol Ecol 2:51-64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Huntingford FA, Turner AK (1987) Animal conflict. Chapman & Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  30. James R, Bennett PG, Krause J (2004) Geometry for mutualistic and selfish herds: the limited domain of danger. J Theor Biol 228:107-113CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Jansen T, Forster P, Levine MA, Oelke H, Hurles M, Renfrew C, Weber J. Olek K (2002) Mitochondrial DNA and the origins of the domestic horse. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 99:10905-10910Google Scholar
  32. Janson CH (1990) Social correlates of individual spatial choice in foraging groups of brown capuchin monkeys, Cebus paella. Anim Behav 40:910-21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Keiper RR (1979) Population dynamics of feral ponies. In: Denniston RH (ed) Symposium on the ecology and behaviour of wild and feral equids. University of Wyoming, Laramie, pp 175-184Google Scholar
  34. Keiper RR (1988) Social interactions of the Przewalski horse (Equus przewalskii Poliakov, 1881) herd at the Munich zoo. Appl Anim Behav Sci 21:89-97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Keiper RR, Sambraus HH (1985) The stability of equine dominance hierarchies and the effects of kinship, proximity and foaling status on hierarchy rank. Appl Anim Behav Sci 16:121-130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. King SRB, Gurnell J (2005) Habitat use and spatial dynamics of takhi introduced to Hustai National Park, Mongolia. Biol Cons 124:277-290Google Scholar
  37. Klimov VV, Orlov VN (1982) Present state and problems of conservation of Equus przewalski. Soviet J Zool 61:1862-1869Google Scholar
  38. Klingel H (1972) Social behaviour of African Equidae. Zool Afr 7:175-186Google Scholar
  39. Klingel H (1977) Observation on social organization and behaviour of African and Asiatic wild asses (Equus africanus and E. hemionus). Z Tierpsychol 44:323-331PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Kolter L, Zimmermann W (1988) Social behaviour of Przewalski horses (Equus p. prezewalskii) in the Cologne zoo and its consequences for management and housing. Appl Anim Behav Sci 21:117-145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Krueger K (2007) Behaviour of horses in the “Round pen technique. Appl Anim Behav Sci 104:162-170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Linklater WL, Cameron E (2000) Test for cooperative behaviour between stallions. Anim Behav 60:231-743CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Linklater WL, Cameron EZ, Minot EO, Stafford KJ (1999) Stallion harassment and the mating system of horses. Anim Behav 58:295-306CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. McDonnell SM (2003) The equid ethogram: a practical field guide to horse behavior. Eclipse Press, Lexington, KTGoogle Scholar
  45. McDonnell SM, Haviland JCS (1995) Agonistic ethogram of the equid bachelor band. Appl Anim Behav Sci 43:147-188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. McGregor PK (1993) Signalling in territorial systems: a context for individual identification, ranging and eavesdropping. Phil Trans R Soc B 340:237-244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. McGregor PK, Dabelsteen T (1996) Communication networks. In: Kroodsma DE, Miller EH (eds) Ecology and evolution of acoustic communication in birds. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, pp 409-425Google Scholar
  48. McKnight T (1976) Friendly vermin: a survey of feral livestock in Australia. Univ Calif Publ Geography 21:1-104Google Scholar
  49. Mesterton-Gibbons M, Dugatkin LA (1995) Toward a theory of dominance hierarchies: effects of assessment, group size, and variation in fighting ability. Behav Ecol 6:416-423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Miller R (1979) Band organisation and stability in red desert feral horses. In: Denniston RH (ed) Symposium on the ecology and behaviour of wild and feral equids. University of Wyoming, Laramie, pp 113-129Google Scholar
  51. Miller R, Denniston RH II (1979) Interband dominance in feral horses. Z Tierpsychol 51:41-47Google Scholar
  52. Miller RM, Lamb R (2005) The revolution in horsemanship and what it means to mankind. The Lyons Press, Guilford, CTGoogle Scholar
  53. Moehlmann PD (ed) (2002) Equids: zebras, asses and horses. Status survey and conservation action plan. IUCN/SSC Equid Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, 190 ppGoogle Scholar
  54. Moss CJ, Poole JH (1983) Relationships and social structure of African elephants. In: Hinde RA (ed) Primate social relationships: an integrated approach. Blackwell Science, Oxford, pp 315-325Google Scholar
  55. Naguib M, Fichtel C, Todt D (1999) Nightingales respond more strongly to vocal leaders of simulated dyadic interactions. Proc R Soc Lond B 266:537-542CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Nicol CJ (2002) Equine learning: progress and suggestions for future research. Appl. Anim Behav Sci 78:193-208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Nishida T (1983) Alpha status and agonistic alliance in wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii). Primates 24:318-336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Oliveira RF, McGregor PK, Latruffe C (1998) Know thine enemy: fighting fish gather information from observing conspecific interactions. Proc R Soc Lond B 265:1045-1049CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Parker GA (1984) Evolutionary stable strategies. In: Krebs JR, Davis NB (eds) Behavioural ecology, 2nd edn. Blackwell Scientific Publication, Oxford, pp 30-61Google Scholar
  60. Paz-y Miño GC, Bond AB, Kamil AC, Balda RP (2004) Pinyon jays use transitive inference to predict social dominance. Nature 430:778-781CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Pollock JI (1980) Behavioural ecology and body condition change in New Forest ponies. RSPCA Scientific Publications, Horsham, Great BritainGoogle Scholar
  62. Popper KR (1977) Natural selection and the emergence of mind. Dialectica 22 3:339-355Google Scholar
  63. Pusey AE, Packer C (2003) The ecology of relationships. In: Krebs JR, Davis NB (eds) Behavioural ecology, 4th edn. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, pp 254-283Google Scholar
  64. Reluga TC, Viscido, S (2005) Simulated evolution of selfish herd behavior. J Theor Biol 234:213-225CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  65. Rivera E, Benjamin S, Nielsen B, Shelle J, Zanella AJ (2002) Behavioral and physiological responses of horses to initial training: the comparison between pastured versus stalled horses. Appl Anim Behav Sci 78:235-252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Rubenstein DI (1978) Islands and their effect on the social organisation of feral horses. Paper 100, Anim Behav Soc Annual Meeting, Univ Washington, Seattle, June 19-23, 1978Google Scholar
  67. Rubenstein DI (1981) Behavioural ecology of island feral horses. Equine Vet J 13:27-34Google Scholar
  68. Rutberg AT, Keiper RR (1993) Proximate causes of natal dispersal in feral ponies: some sex differences. Anim Behav 46:969-975CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Ryder OA, Wedemeyer EA (1982) A cooperative breeding programme for the Mongolian wild horse, Equus przewalskii in the United States. Biol Cons 22:259-271CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Salter RE (1979) Biogeography and habitat-use behavior of feral horses in western and northern Canada. In: Denniston RH (ed) Symposium on the ecology and behaviour of wild and feral equids. University of Wyoming, Laramie, pp 129-141Google Scholar
  71. Salter RE, Hudson RJ (1982) Social organisation of feral horses in western Canada. Appl Anim Ethol 8:207-223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Schilder MBH (1990) Intervention in a herd of semi-captive plains zebra. Behaviour 112:53-83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Sighieri C, Tedeschi D, de Andreis C, Petri L, Baragli P (2003) Behaviour patterns of horses can be used to establish a dominant-subordinate relationship between man and horse. Anim Welf 12:705-708Google Scholar
  74. Tyler SJ (1972) The behaviour and social organisation of the new forest ponies. Anim Beh Monog 5:85-196Google Scholar
  75. U S Bureau of Land Management (BLM) (2006) US Department of the Interior, Office of Public AffairsGoogle Scholar
  76. Viscido SV, Miller M, Wethey DS (2001) The response of a selfish herd to an attack from outside the group perimeter. J Theor Biol 208:315-328CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  77. Viscido SV, Miller M, Wethey DS (2002) The dilemma of the selfish herd: the search for a realistic movement rule. J Theor Biol 217:183-194CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  78. Welsh DA (1975) Population, behavioural, and grazing ecology of the Sable Island, Nova Scotia. PhD Diss, Dalhousie UniversityGoogle Scholar
  79. Waring GH (1979) Behavioral adaptions as a factor in the management of feral equids. In: Denniston RH (ed) Symposium on the ecology and behaviour of wild and feral equids. University of Wyoming, Laramie, pp 85-92Google Scholar
  80. Zervanos SM, Keiper RR (1979) Seasonal home ranges and activity patterns of feral Assateague Island ponies. In: Denniston RH (ed) Symposium on the ecology and behaviour of wild and feral equids. University of Wyoming, LaramieGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Konstanze Krueger
    • 1
  1. 1.Lehrstuhl för Biologie 1Universität RegensburgGermany

Personalised recommendations