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Spatial-temporal relationships of grazing goats and sheep and their guardian dog monitored by global positioning system collars

T. A. Gipson, M. Villaquiran, J. Joseph, and A. L. Goetsch

E (Kika) de la Garza American Institute for Goat Research, Langston University, Langston, OK

Guardian animals such as dogs, donkeys, and llamas are commonly used to protect small ruminants from predators. However, data on their spatial relationships are lacking. The objectives of this research were to examine spatial relationships of goats (G), sheep (S), and guard dogs (D) over time and to determine circadian rhythms. In a group of 12 G and 12 S confined in a 1.6 ha pasture, Global positioning system (GPS) collars were fitted to three G, two S, and the sole D. GPS fixed longitude and latitude every 30 min for 2 wk. After post-differential correction, minimum distance traveled between consecutive fixes (4,097 observations) and distance between any two animals at the same fix time (7,097 observations) were calculated using spherical geometry. The repeated measures, mixed model included animal identity, species, and fix time, with identity nested within species as a random effect. At night, S traveled least between fixes (17.2 ± 1.30 m) and D most (21.9 ± 1.94 m) with G intermediate (17.6 ± 1.10m). However, during day, D traveled least (29.0 ± 1.64 m) and G most (48.3 ± 0.87 m) with S intermediate (41.0 ± 1.02 m). For distances among species at the same fix, closest were at night among G (11.2 ± 1.21 m) and greatest distance at night between the D and S (93.0 ± 1.45 m), which was not different (P > 0.10) from the distance during day between D and S (91.5 ± 1.21 m) or distance at night between G and S (90.2 ± 0.81 m). Distance among G was greater during day (14.8 ± 1.01 m) than at night (11.2 ± 1.21 m). Distance between S was greater during day (28.6 ± 1.40 m) than at night (14.1 ± 1.80 m). Distance between G and D during day was 52.6 ± 1.04 m and at night was 17.5 ± 1.21 m. During day distance between G and S was 66.9 ± 0.66 m. The three species exhibited definite spatial relationships and preferences; however, further study is needed to ascertain causal effects for these preferences.


 

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