I would just like to say that Phil Gasper is my favorite read on this list.
Phil Gasper wrote:
> We're biological creatures, so trivially there is a biological basis
> for everything we do, because everything we do is compatible with our
> biology. Lions forming prides has about as much to do with US
> imperialism as aphids living with ants has to do with the
> transatlantic slave trade. --PG
> Sent from my iPod
> On Jun 29, 2009, at 15:42, Michael Balter <[log in to unmask]
> <mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
>> More on behavior that humans share with some other animals. How
>> likely is it that there is no biological basis to human warfare and
>> the human tendency to band into groups and fight other groups for
>> territory and resources, even if it is channeled culturally?
>> Lion prides form to win turf wars
>> Matt Walker
>> Editor, Earth News
>> * Lions form prides to defend territory against other lions, not to
>> improve their hunting success, a study reveals. *
>> In doing so, they act much like street gangs, gathering together to
>> protect their turf from interlopers, says a leading lion expert.
>> The bigger the gang, the more successful the lions are, information
>> that could help conserve wild lions.
>> The discovery helps explain why lions, uniquely among the cat
>> species, live together in social groups.
>> Lions stand out amongst all the cat species for their gregarious nature.
>> Across Africa and Asia, lions form prides of varying sizes comprising
>> one or more males and often numerous females and cubs.
>> * The bigger the gang, the more successful it is at controlling the
>> best areas. *
>> Lion expert Craig Packer
>> But why they do so has remained a mystery. A long-standing idea is
>> that female lions socialise in order to hunt cooperatively. But
>> despite the common sight of multiple females working together to
>> outflank and bring down large prey, there is no clear link between
>> how many lions hunt together and their hunting success.
>> Another is that lions gather to protect territory. Indeed, a range of
>> animals from social insects to primates form social groups that
>> defend territories against competitors.
>> But while there has been anecdotal evidence that bigger groups have a
>> competitive advantage, the idea has never been rigorously tested over
>> long periods of time.
>> That has now changed with a study analysing the behaviour of 46 lion
>> prides living in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.
>> * 'Street gangs' *
>> Conducted by ecologists Anna Mosser and Craig Packer of the
>> University of Minnesota in St Paul, US, the study collated data about
>> the prides' behaviour over 38 years, including where they ranged,
>> their composition and how they interacted.
>> Mosser's and Packer's key finding was that competition between lion
>> prides significantly affects the mortality and reproductive success
>> of female lions, they report in the journal Animal Behaviour.
>> Larger prides with more adult females not only produced more cubs, as
>> might be expected, but the females within these prides were less
>> likely to be wounded or killed by other lions.
>> Prides with more females were also more likely to gain control of
>> areas disputed with neighbouring prides, and those prides that
>> recruited lone females improved the quality of their territory.
>> "The most important way to think about this is that lion prides are
>> like street gangs," says Packer.
>> "They compete for turf. The bigger the gang, the more successful it
>> is at controlling the best areas. The main difference from humans is
>> that these are gangs of female lions."
>> * Best 'real estate' *
>> Both researchers think the study, alongside other work they have yet
>> to publish, finally confirms that bigger prides form to defend
>> "The advantage of large group size for group-territorial animals has
>> been suspected for a long time, but had never been proven with data,"
>> says Mosser. "With this paper, we were able to do just that because
>> of the many groups studied over a long period."
>> One surprise revealed by the research is that male lions turn out to
>> play a much bigger role in how prides interact than expected.
>> LION FAMILY LIFE
>> # A lion pride is made of one to 21 females, their offspring, and a
>> temporary coalition of 1 to 9 males
>> # One-third of female lions in the Serengeti leave their mother's pride
>> to form a new one
>> # Males leave their pride by age 4, to go solo or form a coalition with
>> other males
>> Large coalitions of female lions are so successful at dominating
>> small neighbouring prides that male lions step in to try to alter the
>> balance of power. Males will often attack and attempt to kill female
>> lions in neighbouring prides to tip the odds in favour of their own
>> "Males turn out to be playing a greater role than we realised," says
>> Packer. "Males attack females from neighbouring prides, likely
>> altering the balance of power in favour of 'their' females."
>> The territorial advantages gained by coming together into larger
>> social groups would have driven the evolution of social behaviour in
>> lions, say the researchers.
>> "It also confirms a pattern that is probably applicable for many
>> species, including group-territorial ants, birds, and chimpanzees,"
>> says Mosser, who is now at The Jane Goodhall Institute, in Kigoma,
>> Such insights will help with the conservation of lions, the numbers
>> of which are suspected to have fallen by at least a third across
>> Africa over the past two decades.
>> The research shows that "the lions are competing for relatively
>> scarce 'hotspots' of high value real estate," says Packer.
>> So "lion numbers are ultimately limited by the number of hotspots
>> that are safely inside national parks".
>> Story from BBC NEWS:
>> Published: 2009/06/29 10:37:44 GMT
>> © BBC MMIX
>> Michael Balter
>> Contributing Correspondent, Science
>> Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
>> Boston University
>> Email: [log in to unmask]
>> <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
>> Website: michaelbalter.com <http://michaelbalter.com>
>> Balter's Blog: michael-balter.blogspot.com