Home Range vs Territory in Mammals
Both home range and territory could be identified as locations where animals naturally inhabit. However, it could be easy for anyone to be confused because both the terms pose with some similarity. Therefore, explaining the distinction of territory from the home range would be important. This article discusses both home range and territory of mammals with some explanations using examples.
Home range of any mammal could be the whole area that can sustain the animal with living conditions such as food, shelter, and mating partners. When the concept of home range is considered, it covers all the individual members of a particular species. Therefore, as an example, it could be stated that the home range of the Asian elephant, Elephas maximus, is South and Southeast Asia including Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and Burma. However, the concept could be expressed for a particular subspecies, tribe, order, or taxonomic group, as well. Therefore, it is a concept that describes the real distribution of an animal. The scientist W. H. Burt first coined the term home range in the Journal of Mammology back in 1943 related to the mammals. According to the published literature since the introduction of the term, the home range of a species has a particular meaning; it shows the actual geographical locations that the particular species naturally inhabits. The modern Geographic Positioning Systems are important in identifying the home ranges of mammals and other animals. The changes of home ranges of a species with time indicate the changes of resourcefulness of those areas. Therefore, home range concept is an indicator of the ecological sustainability of a particular area, country, or ecosystem.
Territory is a geographical area or location that a particular population, a social unit, or an individual of a particular species (mostly mammals) occupy in a particular time. That means, the term territory does not imply to the whole species alone, but a territory could be occupied by either one animal or few related ones such as friends and family members. Territoriality is a mechanism to manage the available, limited resources among the animals in the same niche, and it is particularly common among carnivores. The primates and birds are the other territorial animals, and humans are amongst the serious territorial animals. All the territorial animals defend their defined territory against the conspecifics (individuals of the same species). Male lions protect the territory of their pride; primates defend the territory of a troop, and orang-utan keeps the others away from the territory of one individual. The territory is a self-defined area by different types of marking techniques such as urination, defecation, scratching trees, use of scent glands, and use of noise or other vocal effects. The dominant groups or individuals have larger territories compared to the submissive groups. Therefore, a territory provides its best resources to the strongest population or individual, so that the tendency to pass the better genes into the next generation is high.
What is the difference between Home Range and Territory in Mammals?
• Home range is expressed to identify the total inhabited area of a particular species, subspecies, or other taxonomic group whereas territory expresses only the area of a particular group of animals in the same species.
• Home range is a much larger area than the territory.
• Territory is protected from the conspecifics while the home range is maintained according to the available resources in the environment, and it is protected against the other species such as predators and parasites.
• Changes in the size of a home range of a species depict the changes in sustainability of the environment, whereas changes in territory expose the alterations in dominance of individuals or groups.