In a reintroduced population, the social behavior of the species can strongly affect the long-term viability of the population through its effects on movement, information flow, disease spread and the population's genetic variability. Therefore, information on the social behavior of a reintroduced population can contribute to conservation practices; however, its importance is often underestimated. The initial phase of the Asiatic wild ass's (Equus hemionus) reintroduction in Israel has been considered a success, and the population is currently estimated at more than 250 individuals. However, the current social structure of the population remained unknown. We aimed to study this important population trait and to provide helpful information for efficient conservation and management protocols. The study was based on direct observations that were conducted over four consecutive years, and on the analyses of groups' composition and female groups' stability. Female groups accompanied by males constituted only 5% of the total 659 observations, males were observed to be mainly solitary or in groups of various sizes, and females were organized in non-stable groups, indicating that the reintroduced population exhibits a fission-fusion social structure. Identifying the social structure for the species in the expanding Negev population of the Asiatic wild ass can assist in implementing future reintroductions and can contribute to effective management decisions aimed at protecting the species.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Tomer Gueta, Nimrod Ben-Aharon, Inbal Zaibel, Daniel Ben-Natan, Yishai Hoffman and the INPA rangers, especially Gal Vin, for their help with the fieldwork. This study was supported by United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation grant number 2011384 awarded to SB, ART and AB. SR, TB and AZ were supported by scholarships from the Department of Life Sciences. This is publication 964 of the Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology.
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd
- Asiatic wild ass
- Equus hemionus
- Negev Desert Israel
- Social structure
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation