Consequences of Natural Variation in Early Experience (FY 1989)
The aims of the proposed work are to continue longitudinal study of a groupof pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) in which detailed records of earlysocial experience and behavior of individual exist. The general goal is todiscover the aspects of natural variability in early experience that setindividuals on diverging developmental pathways, and to assess the lifetimeconsequences of such differential development. This is part of theinformation required to discover the general set of rules by whichmammalian behavior develops. Three sets of questions will be addressed:I--Is there lifetime continuity in social status, arising from birth orderrelated asymmetries among fawns? If not, what events mediate a shift instatus? Is differential social status biologically significant? How arefemale birth-order related dominance matrilines perpetuated? II-Are therelifetime consequences of early variability in locomotor-rotational play?III-Does the size of the fawn social group in which an individual is rearedaffect its subsequent ability to compete effectively in socialinteractions? Pronghorn at the study site (National Bison Range, Moiese,MT) are easily observed and have a simple behavioral repertoire composed ofdiscrete, quantifiable acts. The animals are protected from hunting andare permanently enclosed. Individuals marked as fawns may be followedthroughout their lives. Focal observation of individuals provides the dataon activity, spacing patterns, and social behavior required to answer thequestions posed.