Peyton West

Name ID 678

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Lion Research
Extract Date: 1999 July

Who's who

University of Minnesota, Lion Project

Dr. Craig Packer, the leader of the Lion Research Center for the last 20 plus years. Dr. Packer is a professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior at the University of Minnesota.

Peyton West, Ph.D Student at the University of Minnesota, returnsed to the Serengeti in 1998 to continue her field research. Peyton is focussing on why lions have manes, and some of the research questions she is addressing can be found at: Lion Mane Research in the Serengeti.

Karyl Whitman, the guru of the Maswa Game Reserve research project. Karyl is currently back in Africa continuing her research, which you can read about at our summary on the (see: Maswa Game Reserve.)

Julius Nyahongo, a Tanzanian student who joined the Lion Research team in September, 1998. Julius will be working with Karyl Whitman in the Maswa Game Reserve, helping her monitor the lions and understanding the general biodiversity of the area, i.e doing game counts, looking at animal tracks, and learning the density of animal species living in that area.

Bernard Kissui, a Tanzanian student who also joined in September, 1998. Kissui will be working in the Ngorongoro Crater , trying to determine whether disease, inbreeding, human encroachment on the rim or ecological changes on the crater floor or some combination of these factors is responsible for the decline in lion population over the last few years.

Extract ID: 1393

See also

23 Aug 2002 Publishes: West, Peyton M. and Packer, Craig Sexual Selection, Temperature, and the Lion's Mane

Extract ID: 3562

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Guardian (UK)
Extract Author: Tim Radford, science editor
Extract Date: August 23, 2002

Dark secret that gives male lions a head start

Gentlemen may prefer blondes but lionesses go for males with dark and bouffant manes, researchers report today.

But the alpha males pay a price. They may get the lion's share of the lionesses, but they also take the heat. Dark colours absorb sunlight, pale colours reflect it.

Peyton West, an ecologist at the University of Minnesota, said: "A male with a dark mane may have to work harder to stay cool, behaviourally or physiologically, and is advertising that toughness, along with his toughness in battle.

"Dark colour tends to be found in high testosterone males. Therefore, it isn't surprising that females prefer darker manes, and males would be intimidated."

Ms West reports today in the US journal Science that she and a colleague, Craig Packer, devised a test, setting up pairs of dummy lions in the Serengeti plain of Tanzania, then broadcasting sounds of hyenas eating at a kill - a sure way of ringing the dinner gong for lions. Given a choice of long and short manes, males approached the short-maned dummy nine out of 10 times.

Confronted with light or dark manes, males went for the light one. Lionesses, however, showed a distinct preference for dark manes, nine out of 10 times. And over the long term, when females had a choice of males, they selected the darkest mane in 13 out of 14 cases. Darker manes also had higher testosterone levels.

The research might help conservation. "As climate changes, things like manes, brightness of bird plumage and size of deer antlers may be sensitive bio-indicators," Prof Packer said. "They can tell how well an animal is doing in the environment."

Sexual Selection, Temperature, and the Lion's Mane

Peyton M. West and Craig Packer

Science 2002 August 23; 297: 1339-1343.

Extract ID: 3561