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International Journal of Zoology
Volume 2012, Article ID 162982, 7 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/162982
Research Article

The Behaviour of Stallions in a Semiferal Herd in Iceland: Time Budgets, Home Ranges, and Interactions

1School of Education, University of Iceland, Stakkahlíð, 105 Reykjavík, Iceland
2Bioforsk Ost, Heggenes, 2940 Volbu, Norway
3Division of Environmental Sciences, The Agricultural University of Iceland, Hvanneyri, 311 Borgarnes, Iceland
4Institute of Freshwater Fisheries and The Icelandic Seal Center, Brekkugata 2, 530 Hvammstangi, Iceland

Received 15 August 2012; Accepted 29 September 2012

Academic Editor: Randy J. Nelson

Copyright © 2012 Hrefna Sigurjonsdottir et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

A permanent herd of Icelandic horses with four stallions and their harems was studied for a total of 316 hours in a large pasture (215 ha) in May 2007 in Iceland. Interactions between stallions of different harems and other aspects of the horses' behaviour were studied. One stallion and nine horses were introduced into the pasture prior to the study to examine the reactions of the resident stallions to a newcomer. The stallions spent significantly less time grazing than other horses and were more vigilant. Home ranges overlapped, but harems never mixed. The stallions prevented interactions between members of different harems indirectly by herding. Generally, interactions between resident stallions were nonviolent. However, encounters with the introduced stallion were more aggressive and more frequent than between the other stallions. Here, we show that four harems can share the same enclosure peacefully. The social network seems to keep aggression at a low level both within the harems and the herd as a whole. We encourage horse owners to consider the feasibility of keeping their horses in large groups because of low aggression and because such a strategy gives the young horses good opportunities to develop normally, both physically and socially.