Social interactions among Capercaillie Tetrao urogallus males outside the lek during spring

Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) Science Article 12


Capercaillies have a lek-likemating system,with partly overlappingmale daytime ranges extending radially out fromsmaller display territories at the lek.With VHF telemetry, we studied the spatial interactions among neighbouring adult males (n = 10) of different social status in their overlap zones outside the lek. In addition, we recorded responses to display sound that was broadcasted on the lek and in the daytime ranges. Allmales, irrespective of social status, responded aggressively to the playback when on their display territories on the lek.While in their core areas during daytime, only 2males, known to be breeders, responded aggressively; others were activated, but not aggressively. When outside their daytime core areas, playbacks elicited less response among all birds. Close encounters (< 300mapart) within core areas resulted in onemale leaving: betamales always left when inside alpha's core area, whereas in 4 out of 9 instances alphas left when inside beta's core areas. The results suggest that the territorial system at the lek grades into a combination of hierarchical and site-related dominance outside the lek. Daytime ranges may consist of exclusive core areas, surroundedwith space shared with neighbourswhere subdominants avoid close spatial contact with those of higher rank. Owing to strong site fidelity and large minimumtolerance distance, the dominance hierarchical structure produces a spaced-out distribution of individuals, which at lower densities gives the appearance of daytime territories.

P. Wegge & S. Eliassen, Ornis Fennica 82:147-154. 2005

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