Searching for patchily distributed, highly localized, and seasonally variable resources in heterogeneous environments poses significant challenges for social species living in cohesive groups. Here, we studied the searching strategies of a highly social mammal, the white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari), in Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, Mexico. Calakmul Biosphere Reserve is a seasonal tropical forest where important resources, such as water and food, are patchy distributed and temporarily scarce. We attempted to determine what theoretical searching model best explained the movement patterns of groups of white-lipped peccaries, including short-tailed, long-tailed, and scale-free distributions. We found that the only distribution that was well supported by the data was a zero-inflated lognormal distribution; this implies a general pattern of normally short-range intensive searching with occasional long-distance directed movements taking the animals away from previously searched areas. We also found that groups concentrated foraging activities around sources of water during the dry season, behaving as central-place foragers while occasionally searching distant areas. We discuss the potential adaptive values of such behavioral strategies for social species living in highly heterogeneous environments.
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