NONKIN ASSOCIATIONS IN WILD BOAR SOCIAL UNITS

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Abstract

We investigated the social organization of wild boars (Sus scrofa) using genetic and spatial data from a study population in Tuscany, Italy. In total, 120 wild boars of different sexes and age classes were captured and monitored from 2002 to 2006. All of them were genetically analyzed by using 10 polymorphic microsatellites (HE = 0.693, k = 6.6) and a matrix of pairwise relatedness was calculated. In addition, a reference sample of fully related individuals was created by genotyping 11 adult females and their fetuses (n = 56). Spatial data were gathered for 65 animals that had been fitted with either radiocollars or ear transmitters. Sixteen social units were identified by capture data and confirmed by observations and telemetry. A correlation between interindividual spatial distance and relatedness was observed only in summer-early autumn and seemed to be associated to the presence of piglets. The prediction of matrilinearity in wild boar social units was not confirmed, because a low degree of relatedness among boars was observed within groups. Aggregations of unrelated adult females (with their litters) were detected in the study population. The high turnover in the population due to human-caused mortality seems to be the main factor responsible for this altered social structure. Accordingly, we suggest that the observed social organization would result from grouping of unrelated survivors that is promoted by the presence of wolves in the area.

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