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Krueger, K., Schneider, G., Flauger, B., & Heinze, J. (2015). Context-dependent third-party intervention in agonistic encounters of male Przewalski horses. Behav. Process., 121, 54–62.
Abstract: Abstract One mechanism to resolve conflict among group members is third party intervention, for which several functions, such as kin protection, alliance formation, and the promotion of group cohesion have been proposed. Still, empirical research on the function of intervention behaviour is rare. We studied 40 cases of intervention behaviour in a field study on 13 semi-wild bachelor horses (Equus ferus przewalskii) in (a) standard social situations, and (b) when new horses joined the group (i.e. introductions). Only interventions in agonistic encounters were analysed. Eight of 13 animals directed intervention behaviour toward threatening animal in agonistic encounters of group members. One stallion was particularly active. The stallions did not intervene to support former group mates or kin and interventions were not reciprocated. In introduction situations and in standard social situations, the interveners supported animals which were lower in rank, but targeted, threatening animals of comparable social rank. After introductions, stallions received more affiliative behaviour from animals they supported and thus appeared to intervene for alliance formation. In standard social situations, interveners did not receive more affiliative behaviour from animals they supported and may primarily have intervened to promote group cohesion and to reduce social disruption within the group.