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Sexual Segregation in Ungulates: A Comment

John E. Gross
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1383031 1404-1409 First published online: 3 December 1998


Main et al. (1996) synthesized evidence that supported or refuted three hypotheses that have emerged as the most common explanations for sexual segregation in ungulates. They provided new insights by evaluating a broad range of studies, and they identified promising topics for future research. However, Main et al.'s (1996) analyses may lead to further confusion about important links between foraging by ungulates and mechanisms that can account for sexual segregation. To clarify those links, I summarize information on foraging processes central to understanding and evaluating hypotheses on diet selection, habitat use, and sexual segregation by ungulates. I reevaluate evidence presented by Main et al. (1996) and identify key differences in feeding by browsers and grazers that affect the interpretation of morphological characteristics. To improve future studies of sexual segregation, I provide additional suggestions that incorporate recent findings on feeding by ungulates.

Key words
  • sexual segregation
  • body size
  • diet selection
  • intake
  • ungulates
  • herbivores