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We examine closely the models, methods and conclusions of Doncaster and Woodroffe (1993; Oikos 66: 88-93) who argued that den or main sett sites of clans of badgers, Meles meles, are particularly important in determining territory shape and size, and hence influence the size of social group. We consider a realistic alternative hypothesis which allows the key assertion by Doncaster and Woodroffe to be directly tested. We show that a Dirichlet tessellation model that does not give a major role to the main setts fits data from several studies - two of those considered by Doncaster and Woodroffe, and a more recent and extensive one - significantly better than Doncaster and Woodroffe's model. For the majority of territories, especially in the most extensive data set, differences in territory shape and size under the two models are substantial, suggesting that a different biological mechanism is at work, as well as or instead of dependence on main sett locations.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





392 - 398