7 September, 2012
WildCRU receives award from the Japanese Mammal Society
WildCRU's Chris Newman and Christina Buesching, along with Director David Macdonald have won the Mammal Study Journal Award, 2012, from the Japanese Mammal Society for their collaborative work with Prof. You-Bing Zhou at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, and Prof. Yayoi Kaneko of the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology.
Their paper, entitled 'Contrasting sociality in two widespread, generalist, mustelid genera, Meles and Martes', examines why Eurasian badger and marten species differ in their social organisation – despite both subfamilies comprising generalist omnivores. Resource dispersion proves crucial - while a super-abundance of food favours social group formation in badgers, all martens are solitary.
The greater body-size and capacity to carry winter fat reserves in badgers, coupled with their ability to go into winter torpor and their utilisation of insulating subterranean dens, predisposes them to be able to tolerate conditions of restricted food security.
By contrast, martens are agile, pursuit predators and therefore would be compromised by carrying heavy, cumbersome fat reserves and so are not suited to winter torpor – consequently they cannot endure extended food restriction. As a result, badgers can 'buffer' periods of reduced food availability and groups can form where secondary individuals can 'make-do' for extended periods of time until conditions of plenty for all return. Martens starve quickly with food deprivation and therefore each marten must hold its own territory, independent of others. The paper also discusses how the smaller Japanese badger represents a transition between the two socio-types; the 'missing-link' where these badgers form simpler and more transient social aggregations.
For full details see:Newman, C., Zhou, Y-B., Buesching, C.D., Kaneko, Y. & Macdonald, D.W. (2011). Contrasting sociality in two widespread, generalist, mustelid genera, Meles and Martes. Mammal Study 36:169-188. http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.3106/041.036.0401