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Classical models of social organization in mustelids suggest that female ranging patterns are determined by the dispersion of resources, whereas those of males are determined by the dispersion of females. However, mating systems and social spacing patterns vary widely both between and within species. For example, European Badgers exhibit a continuum from the classical mustelid model of intra-sexual territoriality and inter-sexual overlap to very large, mixed-sex, promiscuous groups. We evaluated hypotheses and existing data to explain this variation, using comparative analyses and Principal Components Analysis of life history and ecological variables. In addition, we applied a null model of allometric scaling to test for associations between group mass and residual home range size. We found that: (1) the degree of social behaviour and breeding group size increased with life history variables indicative of K-selected strategies of parental investment. (2) Absolute home range size and residual home range size (derived from allometric home range scaling) decreased, paradoxically, with breeding group size and group mass, respectively. These rdsults provide support for ecological theories of social grouping in general and, in particular, for the importance of dispersed resource-rich patches as developed in the Resource Dispersion Hypothesis.

Original publication




Journal article


Mammal Review

Publication Date





171 - 196