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Author (up) Wolter, R.; Pantel, N.; Stefanski, V.; Möstl, E.; Krueger, K. url  doi
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  Title The role of an alpha animal in changing environmental conditions Type Journal Article
  Year 2014 Publication Physiology & Behavior Abbreviated Journal Physiol. Behav.  
  Volume 133 Issue 0 Pages 236-243  
  Keywords Alpha male; Horse; Equus ferus przewalskii; Bachelor group; Group structure  
  Abstract Abstract The maintenance and development of conservation areas by grazing of large herbivores, such as Przewalski's horses, is common practice. Several nature conservation areas house male bachelor groups of this species. When males are needed for breeding they are removed from the groups, often without considering group compositions and individual social positions. However, alpha animals are needed for ensuring group stability and decision making in potentially dangerous situations in several species. To investigate the role of the alpha male in a bachelor group, we observed the behaviour of five Przewalski's horse males during the enlargement of their enclosure. We analyzed the group's social structure and movement orders, as well as the animals' connectedness, activity budgets, and whether they moved with preferred group members and how factors such as social rank influenced the horses' behaviour. We also investigated the excretion of glucocorticoid metabolites (GCM) via faeces of the horses while exploring a new area as a parameter of glucocorticoid production. Our results show that the alpha male is important for a bachelor group in changing environmental conditions. The alpha male had the highest level of connectedness within the group. When exploring the new environment, its position in the group changed from previously being the last to being the first. Furthermore the whole group behaviour changed when exploring the new area. The stallions showed reduced resting behavior, increased feeding and did not stay close to each other. We found that the excretion of glucocorticoid metabolites of most horses rose only marginally during the first days on the new area while only the alpha male showed a significant increased amount of glucocorticoid production during the first day of the enclosure enlargement.  
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  ISSN 0031-9384 ISBN Medium  
  Area Expedition Conference  
  Notes Approved no  
  Call Number Equine Behaviour @ team @ Serial 5818  
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