Relative Distance; January 2008; Scientific American Magazine; by Dan Eatherley; 2 Page(s)
In many animals, relatives tend to stay close, either sharing the same territory or living in neighboring ones. By sticking together, individuals can defend food, mates and other resources, thereby working to perpetuate the family genes, even if not all manage to breed or raise young.
One particular mammal, however, turns this general observation on its head, and experts in behavioral ecology do not quite understand why. Striped hyenas (Hyaena hyaena), which live in Africa and parts of Asia, demonstrate socalled protosocial tendencies. Although little direct interaction occurs among individual hyenas, a closer look reveals that they actually form spatial groups living on exclusive and stable ranges just like species that display obvious social behavior. One would expect relatives to share the same territory or to inhabit territories close together. This is not always so, however, claims Aaron P. Wagner, now at Michigan State University.