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Behavior of the common shrew Sorex araneus, masked shrew Sorex caecutiens, and pygmy shrew Sorex minutus in familiar and unfamiliar territories

Behavior of the common shrew Sorex araneus, masked shrew Sorex caecutiens, and pygmy shrew Sorex minutus in familiar and unfamiliar territories

Zoologicheskii Zhurnal 86(10): 1259-1271

The behavior of yearlings of Sorex araneus, S. caecutiens. and S. minutus was studied in a vivarium on the territories familiar and unfamiliar for shrews. Individual animals were kept in transparent boxes. Beginning from the fourth day, unfamiliar shrews taken from analogous boxes were introduced to the residents for 30 min. During 1-2 days, a back introduction was performed. Visually distinguishable behavioral patterns, character of contacts in nests, initiators and winners in aggressive interaction were recorded. Animals build nests lined with sphagnum. In all species, the residents drove unfamiliar shrews away from the nests more often than vice versa and protected the nests more successfully. The residents became initiators and winners in ritualized aggression more often than unfamiliar shrews, although continuous pursuits were not recorded. Unfamiliar shrews avoided the residents, the latter protected the surroundings. The residential territory was accessible for other animals only to the extent of avoidance of contacts with residents. The similarity in the behavior of the residents and aliens was assessed using the Sorensen's coefficient. For S. araneus, S. caecutiens, and S. minutus, it was 84, 77, and 65, respectively. The most contrasting differences in the behavior of S. caecutiens yearlings were found in the residents and aliens. In nature, the territories of this species overlap more often than those in the other species studied. At the other end of the continuum, there was S. minutus with the maximal percentage of isolated territories. Such a behavior of the residents reflects the intensity of struggle for area rather than the fact of possessing the territory for individual use. Territorial aggression by itself is not an effective mechanism of spatial segregation.

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