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Dunston E.J.,Charles Sturt University | Abell J.,Coventry University | Abell J.,African Lion and Environmental Research Trust | Doyle R.E.,University of Melbourne | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Ethology | Year: 2016

Increasing our understanding of personality, at an individual and group level, is crucial to the pre-release assessment of social species within ex situ reintroduction programs. We conducted the first exploration into the personality of a captive-origin pride of African lions (Panthera leo), assessing behavioural variations and consistencies in daily activity, social and hunting behaviour, and boldness. Data were collected via direct observations, while a species-specific protocol for testing boldness, using playbacks, was developed. Differences in sex, age and session time for the activity budget were evaluated using Pearson correlations and repeated-measures ANOVA, while social interactions were analysed using social network analysis. Spearman’s correlations were conducted to assess for associations between boldness scores, activity and sociality. The two boldness tests provided a range of scores per lion, indicating that the test was effective. Correlations and variations in individual behaviour indicated that adults and sub-adults have specific roles within pride behaviour. Correlations between boldness and activity and social behaviours provided information on the role of individuals, allowing investigation into the behaviour of a dominant and a social keystone. Our study indicates that evaluating various aspects of behaviour in conjunction with boldness has the potential to assist the pre-release assessment of a pride within an ex situ reintroduction program. © 2016 Japan Ethological Society and Springer Japan

Abell J.,Coventry University | Abell J.,African Lion and Environmental Research Trust | Kirzinger M.W.B.,University of Regina | Gordon Y.,African Lion and Environmental Research Trust | And 5 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Animal conservation practices include the grouping of captive related and unrelated individuals to form a social structure which is characteristic of that species in the wild. In response to the rapid decline of wild African lion (Panthera leo) populations, an array of conservational strategies have been adopted. Ex situ reintroduction of the African lion requires the construction of socially cohesive pride structures prior to wild release. This pilot study adopted a social network theory approach to quantitatively assess a captive pride's social structure and the relationships between individuals within them. Group composition (who is present in a group) and social interaction data (social licking, greeting, play) was observed and recorded to assess social cohesion within a released semi-wild pride. UCINET and SOCPROG software was utilised to represent and analyse these social networks. Results indicate that the pride is socially cohesive, does not exhibit random associations, and the role of socially influential keystone individuals is important for maintaining social bondedness within a lion pride. These results are potentially informative for the structure of lion prides, in captivity and in the wild, and could have implications for captive and wild-founder reintroductions. © 2013 Abell et al.

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