Publications by authors named "Michael S Mooring"

2 Publications

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Trade-offs between fighting and breeding: a social network analysis of bison male interactions.

J Mammal 2021 Apr 29;102(2):504-519. Epub 2021 Jan 29.

Department of Biology, Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego, CA, USA.

In most polygynous species, males compete for access to females using agonistic interactions to establish dominance hierarchies. Typically, larger and stronger males become more dominant and thus gain higher mating and reproductive success over subordinate males. However, there is an inherent trade-off between time and energy invested in dominance interactions versus courtship and mating activities. Individuals may overcome this trade-off by selectively engaging in more effective mating tactics. North American bison () are a species of conservation concern that exhibit female-defense polygyny with two predominant mating tactics: (1) tending individual females; or (2) challenging tending males as a satellite and then mating opportunistically. Here, we use social network analysis to examine the relationship between position in the agonistic interaction network of bison males and their mating, reproductive success, and reproductive tactics and effort. To assess the potential for social network analysis to generate new insights, we compare male (node) centrality in the interaction network with traditional David's score and Elo-rating dominance rankings. Local and global node centrality and dominance rankings were positively associated with prime-aged, heavy males with the most mating success and offspring sired. These males invested more effort in the "tending" tactic versus the "satellite" tactic, and they tended more females for longer periods during peak rut, when most females were receptive. By engaging in the most effective mating tactic, dominant males may mitigate the trade-off between allocating time and energy to agonistic interactions that establish dominance, versus courtship and mating. While less dominant males participated more in the alternative mating tactic, network analysis demonstrated that they were still important to the interaction network on both a local and global scale.
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April 2021

Circadian activity patterns of mammalian predators and prey in Costa Rica.

J Mammal 2020 Oct 3;101(5):1313-1331. Epub 2020 Oct 3.

Point Loma Nazarene University, Department of Biology, San Diego, CA, USA.

Temporal niche shifts can shape predator-prey interactions by enabling predator avoidance, enhancing feeding success, and reducing competition among predators. Using a community-based conservation approach, we investigated temporal niche partitioning of mammalian predators and prey across 12 long-term camera trap surveys in the Pacific slope and Talamanca Cordillera of Costa Rica. Temporal overlap and segregation were investigated between predator-prey and predator-predator pairs using overlap analysis, circular statistics, and relative abundance after accounting for differences in habitat, season, and human impact among sites. We made the assumption that predators select abundant prey and adjust their activity to maximize their temporal overlap, thus we predicted that abundant prey with high overlap would be preferred prey species for that predator. We also predicted that similar-sized pairs of predator species with the greatest potential for competitive interactions would have the highest temporal segregation. Our results supported the existence of temporal niche separation among the eight species of predators-the smaller felids (ocelot, margay, oncilla) were primarily nocturnal, the largest felids (jaguar and puma) and coyote were cathemeral, and the smaller jaguarundi and tayra were mostly diurnal. Most prey species (67%) were primarily nocturnal versus diurnal or cathemeral (33%). Hierarchical clustering identified relationships among species with the most similar activity patterns. We discuss the primary prey and competitor species predicted for each of the eight predators. Contrary to our prediction, the activity pattern of similar-sized intraguild competitors overlapped more than dissimilar-sized competitors, suggesting that similar-sized predators are hunting the same prey at the same time. From this we conclude that prey availability is more important than competition in determining circadian activity patterns of Neotropical predators. Our results indicate the presence of a delicate balance of tropical food webs that may be disrupted by overhunting, leading to a depauperate community consisting of ubiquitous generalists and endangered specialists. With Central America a hotspot for hunting-induced "empty forests," community-based conservation approaches may offer the best road to reduce illegal hunting and maintain the biodiversity and community structure of tropical forest systems.
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October 2020