Hog badger (Arctonyx collaris) latrine use in relation to food abundance: Evidence of the scarce factor paradox
Zhou Y., Chen W., Buesching CD., Newman C., Kaneko Y., Xiang M., Nie C., Macdonald DW., Xie Z.
© 2015 Zhou et al. Many carnivores use latrines, and investigations of latrine use have typically been concerned with territorial defense, often at the expense of fully evaluating other, not mutually exclusive, functions. In particular, the relationship between food abundance and latrine use patterns has been explored inadequately, where latrine location may be used to aid spatial memory, to stake a claim on access to temporally variable food resources, or to signal the local depletion of resources. Little is known about the hog badger (Arctonyx collaris), however the consensus is that they are solitary, but nonetheless deposit their feces in latrines, but without any group-territory defense function. This provides an ideal study system to investigate how temporal and spatial variation in latrine use strategy is associated with food resource availability throughout the year. We use generalized linear mixed models (GLMM) and an informationtheoretic approach to test the hypothesis that seasonal latrine use patterns signal the resources most valued (i.e., the foraging book keeping hypothesis). We found that latrine use showed significant seasonal and habitat-related variations, where the number of feces per latrine reached seasonal maxima in early summer but was lowest in autumn, and was significantly higher in logged forest and selectively logged forest but lowest in farmland. The intensity of latrine use exhibited a significant negative relationship with environmental food abundance, and was related to dietary output (fecal contents). That is, hog badgers invested most in 'marking' those more limited resources, concurring with the scarce factor paradox, which asserts that the value of any commodity is a function of its rarity.