Causes and consequences of coati sociality

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Coati species exhibit a level of sociality uncommon among carnivores, and coatis can provide a valuable test of models relating ecology to social behaviour. This chapter draws principally on the authors’ research in Panama (Nasua narica) and Argentina (Nasua nasua), but also discuss insights gained from work conducted in the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Brazil. Based on these comparisons, the authors posit that predation and feeding competition have been two of the strongest forces shaping coati social patterns and discuss how socio-ecological pressures affect almost every aspect of coati biology, including; morphology, feeding ecology, reproduction, demography, and disease spread.

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... To address these questions, a series of feeding trials were conducted using wild groups of ring-tailed coatis (Nasua nasua) feeding on patches of introduced fruit. Coatis represent a useful model to study social foraging strategies because their interindividual spacing is highly variable; thus, they have the opportunity to discover food both close to and far away from conspecifics (Gompper 1996;Hirsch 2011aHirsch , 2011bHirsch and Gompper 2017). Coatis mostly travel on the ground, are easily observed at close distance, and can be videotaped with no effect on their behavior. ...
... Observations and feeding trials were conducted on 2 study groups (PQ and PSG). Ring-tailed coati groups generally consist of adult females and their offspring (juveniles = 0-12 months of age, subadults = 12-24) (Hirsch 2007c;Hirsch and Gompper 2017;Hirsch and Maldonado 2011) and each group in this study contained one adult male (Hirsch 2011c). During 2004, the subadults (individuals between 1 and 2 of age) in the PQ broke off and formed their own subgroup (3-6 individuals). ...
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Social foraging models are often used to explain how group size can affect an individual’s food intake rate and foraging strategies. The proportion of food eaten before the arrival of conspecifics, the finder’s share, is hypothesized to play a major role in shaping group geometry, foraging strategy, and feeding competition. The variables that affect the finder’s share in ring-tailed coatis were tested using a series of food trials. The number of grapes in the food trials had a strong negative effect on the finder’s share and the probability that the finder was joined. The effect of group size on the finder’s share and foraging success was not straightforward and was mediated by sociospatial factors. The finder’s share increased when the time to arrival of the next individual was longer, the group was more spread out, and the finder was in the back of the group. Similarly, the total amount of food eaten at a trial was higher when more grapes were placed, arrival time was longer, and the number of joiners was smaller. Individuals at the front edge of the group found far more food trials, but foraging success was higher at the back of the group where there were fewer conspecifics to join them. This study highlights the importance of social spacing strategies and group geometry on animal foraging tactics and the costs and benefits of sociality.
... The movements of the eight spider monkeys we tracked were treated as independent, although due to their fission-fusion dynamics, these individuals sometimes travelled together. Finally, coati males and females differ in their social behavior with females travelling as part of stable and cohesive social groups and males living solitarily through most of the annual cycle, but joining groups during the mating season (Gompper & Krinsley, 1992;Hirsch & Gompper, 2017). We tracked 6 male and 10 female coatis belonging to seven unique groups. ...
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en Terrestrial animals feed on fruit dropped by arboreal frugivores in tropical forests around the world, but it remains unknown whether the resulting spatial associations of these animals are coincidental or intentionally maintained. On Barro Colorado Island, Panama, we used a combination of acoustic playback experiments, remote camera monitoring, and GPS tracking to quantify the frequency of such interactions, determine who initiates and maintains spatial associations, and test whether terrestrial animals adopt a strategy of acoustic eavesdropping to locate fruit patches created by foraging primates. Indeed, 90% of fruits collected in fruit fall traps had tooth marks of arboreal frugivores, and terrestrial frugivores visited fruit trees sooner following visits by GPS-collared monkeys. While our play back experiments were insufficient to support the hypothesis that terrestrial frugivores use auditory cues to locate food dropped by arboreal primates, analyses of movement paths of capuchin monkeys (Cebus capucinus), spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi), and coatis (Nasua narica) reveal that observed patterns of interspecific attraction are not merely a byproduct of mutual attraction to shared resources. Coatis were significantly more likely to initiate close encounters with arboreal primates than vice versa and maintained these associations by spending significantly longer periods at fruiting trees when collared primates were present. Our results demonstrate that terrestrial frugivores are attracted to arboreal primates, likely because they increase local resource availability. Primates are often among the first species in a habitat to be extirpated by hunting; our results suggest that their loss may have unanticipated consequences for the frugivore community. Abstract in Spanish is available with online material. Resumen es Animales terrestres se alimentan de frutas arrojadas por frugívoros arbóreos en bosque tropicales, pero sí estas asociaciones son intencionales o accidentales, se desconoce. En la Isla Barro Colorado, Panamá, combinamos experimentos de reproducción acústica, cámaras de monitoreo remoto y rastreo con GPS, para cuantificar frecuencia de interacciones; determinar quién inicia y mantiene asociaciones espaciales, y probar si animales terrestres adoptan una estrategia de intercepción de señales acústicas, para localizar parches de frutas creados por primates forrajeando. De hecho, 90% de las frutas caídas en trampas frutales tenían marcados dientes de frugívoros arbóreos; y frugívoros terrestres revisitaron árboles frutales pronto, después que monos con collares GPS los visitaran. Si bien nuestros experimentos acústicos no fueron suficientes para apoyar la hipótesis de que frugívoros terrestres utilizan señales auditivas para localizar comida arrojada por primates arbóreos; el análisis de trayectoria de movimiento de monos capuchinos (Cebus capucinus), monos arañas (Ateles geoffroyi) y coaties (Nasua narica) revelo que los patrones de interacción interespecíficas observados no son simplemente consecuencia de atracción mutua por recursos compartidos. Coaties fueron significativamente más propensos a iniciar encuentros cercanos con primates arbóreos que viceversa, y mantuvieron estas asociaciones pasando periodos significativamente más largos en árboles frutales, cuando primates con collares estaban. Nuestros resultados demuestran, que frugívoros terrestres son atraídos a primates arbóreos, probablemente porque aumentan la disponibilidad local de recursos. Los primates están frecuentemente entre las primeras especies extirpadas por la cacería en un habitad; nuestros resultados sugieren que su perdida puede tener consecuencias imprevistas para la comunidad de frugívoros.
... In the case of coatis, their behavior is also relevant since they have high levels of phylopatry and a limited dispersal capacity (Frantz et al. 2010). They form groups with a small territorial range of 0.5 to 4 km 2 (Valenzuela and Ceballos 2000;Hirsch and Gompper 2017). Being barely dispersed from the birth site, the groups, mainly formed by females, are strongly bonded. ...
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Carnivores are extremely important in ecosystem dynamics. Coatis (Procyonidae) are a group of Neotropical species with highly developed social behavior. One coati species is the Central American or white-nosed coati (Nasua narica). This work describes the analysis of two sets of mitochondrial data for a sample of N. narica covering most of the geographic distribution range of the species. The first data set analyzed 74 specimens for three mitochondrial loci; the second, 59 specimens for complete mitochondrial genomes. Our phylogenetic analyses revealed six distinct genetic groups of N. narica in southern México, Central America, and South America, which, together with three additional groups found in northern México and southern USA in a previous study, resulted in a total of nine genetically distinct groups of N. narica. The first genetic group (G1), which began to differentiate 4.1 to 3.2 million years ago, was located on the Pacific coast of Ecuador and northern Colom�bia. A second genetic group (G6) was detected in northern Colombia, Panama, and southern Costa Rica, being introgressed by mitochondrial DNA from the mountain coati (Nasuella olivacea). The third genetic group (G3) was located in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and southern Guatemala. The fourth genetic group (G4) was located in north-central Guatemala and Belize. The fifth genetic group (G5) was distributed in southern México (Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Quintana Roo, and Yucatán) and northern Guatemala. Finally, the sixth genetic group (G2) was found only in Mérida (Yucatán, México). Groups G2 to G5 became mitochondrially diversified over 1.9 to 1.1 million years. All groups showed high mitochondrial genetic diversity, although the South American genetic group (G1) had the highest diversity. The northern genetic groups (G4, G5) had lower genetic diversity, except for the Merida group, which is likely composed of other undetected subgroups. The existence of six (nine, considering another study) well-developed groups in N. narica is related to female phylopatry and climatic changes during the Pleistocene. A spatial autocorrelation analysis showed a very high structure, well in line with the south-to-north colonization of the American continent by N. narica.
... Coatis (Nasua spp.) are the most gregarious species within the family Procyonidae (Mammalia: Carnivora), forming groups ('bands') that vary in size from five up to 31 individuals (see Hirsch & Gompper, 2017). Coati bands are usually constituted by closely related adult females (i.e., the philopatric sex) and their offspring, whilst males are pronouncedly less gregarious (Gompper, 1995;Gompper & Decker, 1998; but see Hirsch, 2011). ...
Dominance relationships imply consistent asymmetries in social relationships. Socioecological models predict that resource distribution determines the mode of competition that animals will face and, ultimately, the nature of their social relationships. Here, we provide the first systematic investigation of dominance style in white-nosed coatis (Nasua narica). Coatis live in cohesive female-resident groups, and have a diet based on clumped (fruits) and dispersed (insects) food items, which are predicted to favour despotic and egalitarian social styles, respectively. Our results revealed moderate linearity and steepness in dominance relationships over time, with variations attributed to stages of reproductive season, rather than presumed variations in food resources. Primary social bonds and coalitions were found to mediate dominance rank. Overall, our results suggest some similarities between coatis and despotic-tolerant primate species, at least under particular ecological circumstances, and we discuss their potential for affording a deeper understanding on the sources of variation in mammal social systems.
... White-nosed coatis form philopatric groups consisting of adult females and their offspring (Gompper et al., 1997;Gompper et al., 1998). The home ranges of these groups are typically < 0.5-4 Km 2 , except in the most northern portions of their geographic range (Hirsch and Gompper, 2017;Gompper, 1995;Valenzuela and Ceballos, 2000), which may result in limited dispersion of females, and hence differentiation among maternally-inherited mitochondrial lineages. In contrast, males disperse when they are adults (Gompper et al., 1998;Valenzuela and Ceballos, 2000). ...
Intraspecific variation in ranging and social behavior can be perplexing, but also provides an opportunity to assess which behavioral attributes are labile in the face of geographic variation in resources. White-nosed coatis (Nasua narica) are group-living carnivores of tropical origin that possess an unusual social system. In the resource-rich tropics, larger-bodied males are solitary, whereas females live in groups ("bands") along with young of both sexes, but leave them to give birth and wean their young. Males often disperse socially, but not spatially. We studied coatis in the Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona, a resource-poor, arid, and highly seasonal landscape. Using live capture and radiotelemetry in conjunction with microsatellite DNA analyses, we found that Chiricahua coatis exhibited the species-typical pattern of solitary males and gregarious females. Young males left their natal bands as yearlings, and some were found as adults within their natal home range. On the other hand, home ranges were expanded greatly. Bands, and some males, focused their movements in areas several km 2 in extent over periods of weeks or months but shifted those areas markedly among seasons. Some males followed the typical mammalian pattern of natal dispersal beyond their natal area. Rates of movement were higher and female associations appeared to be more flexible than in the tropics. Adult females sometimes ranged singly, not only around the time of parturition, but also when population density was low and occasionally otherwise. In addition, home range overlap was high among both sexes during some seasons, and female bands sometimes fused for prolonged periods. Core patterns of sociality are constant in both resource-rich tropical and resource-poor temperate populations, but coatis appear to make major adjustments in scale of movement and frequency of association in response to resource variation.
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