Habitat selection and social behaviour in a Pyrenean chamois population (Rupicapra pyrenaica pyrenaica)

Antoni Dalmau, A. Ferret, J.L. Ruiz de la Torre, X. Manteca


The aim of this work was to study habitat selection and sexual segregation in Pyrenean chamois in relation to the reproductive strategy–predation risk hypothesis. This study was conducted in the Cadí-Moixeró Nature Reserve from 2001 to 2003. During foot surveys, groups of Pyrenean chamois were observed and individual animals were identified by age and sex. For each group, altitude, predominant vegetation cover, slope orientation, and distance from escape terrain were studied. A clear sexual segregation was observed, with males selecting mid-elevations (mid-range altitudes) and pine or bush areas, and females selecting grassland areas. Females showed seasonal altitudinal migration to a larger extent than males, with a high presence of females with offspring in the highest altitudes in summer. Males used bush areas with low presence of forage throughout the year, using them as mating areas in winter. Females with offspring were observed in areas with better forage quality. Female groups were larger than male groups. Although it is necessary to study the diet quality in males and females further, the reproductive strategy–predation risk hypothesis could explain the high level of sexual segregation observed in the Pyrenean chamois population of the present study.

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Journal of Mountain Ecology
The Journal of Mountain Ecology is an OPEN ACCESS peer reviewed journal published by the Gran Paradiso National Park.