Doctoral student Jennifer Smith's research sheds new light on hyena survival rates and the cost of hunting in groups
Zoology doctoral student Jennifer Smith has shed some new light on the way spotted hyenas live and hunt together.
Her research reveals that although hyenas living together in a social group may join forces to hunt, protect themselves and defend their food from their natural enemies, when a kill is made, those low in the hierarchy may not actually get to eat.
Smith, who conducted her research at the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, found that because of this high cost of competition, the spotted hyenas have retained their ability to remove themselves from the larger social group to hunt alone, also known as fission-fusion dynamics.
Collaborating with Smith were Dr. Kay Holekamp, MSU professor of zoology, and also MSU students Joseph Kolowski, Ph.D (recent MSU Zoology alumnus), Katharine Graham and Stephanie Dawes.
Smith published her findings in the journal Animal Behavior and is currently featured on MSU's Home Page.