Spatiotemporal variation in African lion roaring in relation to a dominance shift

Steven M. Gray, Robert A. Montgomery, Joshua J. Millspaugh, Matt W. Hayward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Roaring is an integral component of African lion (Panthera leo) ecology as it facilitates social cohesion and territorial defense. Despite the importance of roaring, there is a limited understanding of the configuration of this behavior in spatiotemporal dimensions. Here, we mapped the configuration of lion roaring at the home-range scale and quantified temporal signatures in roaring frequency. We tested whether spatiotemporal patterns of roaring vary with position within a lion dominance hierarchy using a dominance shift that occurred in a reintroduced group of lions. We collected spatially explicit roaring data from continuous follows of 6 telemetered lions in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa, for a 24-month period after release. We assessed the frequency and location of roaring before and after a dominance shift. We developed utilization distributions to describe space use at the coalition level for males and individually for females. We plotted the frequency of roaring for these coalitions and females as a group in each period. The spatiotemporal patterns in roaring were closely tied to social dynamics and the imminent dominance shift experienced in this population. These patterns highlighted a distinct shift in roaring strategy, especially in the newly subordinate male coalition, which substantially reduced their roaring from 10 to ∼3 roars per follow, altered their space use, and altered the spatial configuration of their roaring behavior from the periphery of their home range when they were dominant to nearer to the core (averaging ≤ 31st percentile) of their home range when they became subordinate. While our findings were based on a limited sample, our study suggests that the spatial strategy and frequency of roaring varies in relation to social rank and patterns in space use of rival coalitions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1088-1095
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Mammalogy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


  • Behavior
  • Dominance
  • Home range
  • Lion
  • Panthera leo
  • Roaring
  • South Africa
  • Utilization distribution


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