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Lake Buena Vista, FL, United States

Blowers T.E.,University of Central Florida | Waterman J.M.,University of Manitoba | Kuhar C.W.,Animal Programs | Bettinger T.L.,Animal Programs
Journal of Ethology | Year: 2010

Grouping is known to occur in many species of mammals, and the structure of groups can range along a continuum from basic aggregations to complex social systems. Any social patterns that may occur within the group must be determined in order to understand the adaptive nature of the group. Female Hippopotamus amphibius are known to aggregate in the wild, but their social behaviors are still not understood. Our objective was to determine if captive female hippos display social structure within an aggregation by examining their interactions, and if kinship, familiarity, and dominance influence these interactions. Behavioral data, using continuous focal animal sampling and scan sampling, were collected on a group of captive female hippos housed at Disney's Animal Kingdom and were used to analyze their interactions, association patterns based on kinship and familiarity, and a dominance hierarchy. Our results support the hypothesis that hippos exhibit social patterns due to the attraction to particular individuals. There were more associations between kin than non-kin and also between individuals that were more familiar. Dominance patterns were also found among these hippos. These results may aid in the general understanding of hippopotamus behavior and provide a framework for future research. © Japan Ethological Society and Springer 2009.


Blowers T.E.,Animal Programs | Blowers T.E.,University of Central Florida | Waterman J.M.,University of Central Florida | Waterman J.M.,University of Manitoba | And 2 more authors.
Zoo Biology | Year: 2012

Zoological institutions provide naturalistic exhibits for their animals in order to offer a more appealing look for visitors and give the animal the opportunity to engage in more natural behaviors. Examining space use of the animals in the naturalistic exhibit may aid in the management of these animals and inform future naturalistic exhibit design. The hippopotamus is an amphibious ungulate that spends much of its days in the wild in the water but may be found along the banks of the rivers basking in the sun. Our objective was to determine how captive female hippos utilize their exhibit by examining whether hippos selected for certain areas of a naturalistic exhibit. Scan sample data were collected on a group of nine captive female hippos housed at Disney's Animal Kingdom®. Using ArcView, the data were analyzed to determine distribution of hippos in the exhibit and their utilization of depth categories while in the water. Hippos were found to aggregate in preferred areas of the exhibit, mostly water, and selected most for water depths of 0.6-1.0m. These results will aid in the understanding of hippopotamus space use and may aid zoological institutions in the design of naturalistic exhibits for hippos. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


The findings appear in the journal Global Change Biology. Climate change has many ecological effects, such as altering flowering phenology, or the blooming time of wildflowers, across the world. Altering blooming time often affects plant reproduction and survival, but the mechanisms behind these changes are not well understood. The researchers used two large-scale field experiments to assess how altering the phenology of the western spring beauty affects plant-pollinator interactions and plant reproduction. The iconic white and pink mountain wildflower is visited primarily by native bees collecting nectar and/or pollen. The researchers found that altering blooming time caused low plant reproduction, but the cause of the reduction depended on the direction that the blooming time was altered. Contrary to their predictions, advanced blooming time did not reduce pollinator visits but caused low plant reproduction due to frost damage. Low reproduction due to disrupted plant-pollinator interactions was only achieved by delaying blooming time. Thus, plants face trade-offs with advanced flowering time: while early-flowering plants can reap the benefits of enhanced pollination, they do so at the cost of increased susceptibility to frost damage that can overwhelm any benefit of flowering early. In contrast, delayed flowering results in dramatic reductions in plant reproduction through reduced pollination. "As phenology is advancing around the globe, there are concerns that plant-pollinator interactions may be disrupted through phenological mismatches, or mismatches in the timing of when flowers bloom and their pollinators emerge, leading to reduced plant reproduction," says lead author Zak Gezon, who conducted the research as a doctoral student at Dartmouth and who is now a conservation biologist with Disney's Animal Programs. "Our results suggest, however, that climate change may constrain reproduction of early-flowering plants mostly through the direct impacts of extreme environmental conditions rather than disrupted plant-pollinator interactions." More information: Zachariah J. Gezon et al. Phenological change in a spring ephemeral: implications for pollination and plant reproduction, Global Change Biology (2016). DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13209

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