Agonistic and proximity patterns in enclosed mouflon (O6is gmelini ) ewes in relation to age, reproductive status and kinship

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Agonistic and proximity patterns of mouflon sheep (O6is gmelini ) were studied in a group of enclosed females during two lambing periods. A non-random linear-tending hierarchy almost stable over the 2-years was found. Age was correlated to social rank and to the distribution of agonistic acts by females. The rank of the yearling females was linked to the rank of their mothers. The age of the animal and the degree of relatedness with its congeners appeared as main determinants of the proximity patterns of ewes. Strong associations between closely related females (especially mothers and daughters), brought out the existence of a familial structure in mouflon. Otherwise, we found a strong inter-attraction between yearlings, which received a large number of aggressions from older females. That revealed peer grouping superimposed on familial structures. Age also seemed to influence ‘sociality’ of females, older females tending to associate less with conspecifics than younger ones. © 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.