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Linklater, W. L., Cameron, E. Z., Stafford, K. J., & Veltman, C. J. (2000). Social and spatial structure and range use by Kaimanawa wild horses (Equus caballus: Equidae). New Zealand J. Ecol., 24(2), 139–152.
Abstract: We measured horse density, social structure, habitat use, home ranges and altitudinal micro-climates in the south-western Kaimanawa ranges east of Waiouru, New Zealand. Horse density in the Auahitotara ecological sector averaged 3.6 horses.km-2 and ranged from 0.9 to 5.2 horses.km-2 within different zones. The population's social structure was like that of other feral horse populations with an even adult sex ratio, year round breeding groups (bands) with stable adult membership consisting of 1 to 11 mares, 1 to 4 stallions, and their predispersal offspring, and bachelor groups with unstable membership. Bands and bachelor males were loyal to undefended home ranges with central core use areas. Band home range sizes varied positively with adult band size. Home ranges overlapped entirely with other home ranges. Horses were more likely to occupy north facing aspects, short tussock vegetation and flush zones and avoid high altitudes, southern aspects, steeper slopes, bare ground and forest remnants. Horses were more likely to be on north facing aspects, steeper slopes, in exotic and red tussock grasslands and flush zones during winter and at lower altitudes and on gentler slopes in spring and summer. Seasonal shifts by bands to river basin and stream valley floors in spring and higher altitudes in autumn and winter are attributed to the beginning of foaling and mating in spring and formation of frost inversion layers in winter. Given horse habitat selectivity and the presence of other ungulate herbivores, results from present exclosures are likely to exaggerate the size of horse impacts on range vegetation. Proposals to manage the population by relocation and confinement are likely to modify current social structure and range use behaviour and may lead to the need for more intensive management in the longer term.
Cameron, E. Z., Stafford, K. J., Linklater, W. L., & Veltman, C. J. (1999). Suckling behaviour does not measure milk intake in horses, Equus caballus. Anim. Behav., 57(3), 673–678.
Abstract: Studies of parental investment in mammals have frequently used suckling behaviour to estimate energy transfer from mother to offspring, and consequently to measure maternal input. Such studies assume that the more an offspring sucks, the more milk it will receive. This assumption has been questioned, and a review of the literature found little support for it. To test if suckling behaviour provided an accurate index of milk or energy intake we used a radioactive isotope technique to label the milk of thoroughbred mares and to measure milk transfer to foals. We found no significant linear relationship between usual measures of suckling behaviour and milk or energy intake. No behaviours associated with suckling nor with characteristics of mares and foals improved the relationship; only the number of butts associated with each suck episode even approached significance. If we had used suckling behaviour to test theories on differential maternal investment our conclusions would have been in error. For example, female foals tended to suck for longer than males did but there was no difference in the amount of milk transferred. Consequently, we show that measures of suckling behaviour do not adequately predict milk intake in the domestic horse and we suggest that conclusions about differential maternal investment in mammals based on suckling behaviour are likely to be in error. Copyright 1999 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.