OPEN PloS one | 8 Dec 2016
TY Hubel, J Shotton, SD Wilshin, J Horgan, R Klein, R McKenna and AM Wilson
Animals navigate their environment using a variety of senses and strategies. This multiplicity enables them to respond to different navigational requirements resulting from habitat, scale and purpose. One of the challenges social animals face is how to reunite after periods of separation. We explore a variety of possible mechanisms used to reunite the members of a cheetah coalition dispersed within a large area after prolonged separation. Using GPS data from three cheetahs reuniting after weeks of separation, we determined that 1) the likelihood of purely coincidental reunion is miniscule 2) the reunion occurred in an area not normally frequented 3) with very little time spent in the region in advance of the reunion. We therefore propose that timely encounter of scent markings where paths cross is the most likely mechanism used to aid the reunion.
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