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Habitat heterogeneity and social factors drive behavioral plasticity in giraffe herd-size dynamics

Behavioral plasticity, or the mechanism by which an organism can adjust its behavior in response to exogenous change, has been highlighted as a potential buffer against extinction risk. Giraffes (Giraffa spp.) are gregarious, long-lived, highly mobile megaherbivores with a large brain size, characteristics that have been associated with high levels of behavioral plasticity. However, while there has been a recent focus on genotypic variability and morphological differences among giraffe populations, there has been relatively little discussion centered on behavioral flexibility

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Ecological determinants of herd size in the Thornicroft’s giraffe of Zambia

Ecological factors have a pervasive impact on animal population sizes and the structure of their social systems. In a number of ungulate species, predator pressure exerts a major influence on group size. Given that giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) live in an extremely flexible social system, and that breeding is non-seasonal, they are an ideal species for examining how ecological variables contribute to fluctuations in herd size. We present an analysis of 34 years of data on a population of Thornicroft’s giraffe

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