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Zebra Stripes$
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Tim Caro

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226411019

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226411156.001.0001

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Multifactorial analyses

Multifactorial analyses

(p.167) Eight Multifactorial analyses
Zebra Stripes

Tim Caro

University of Chicago Press

The seven equid species and twenty subspecies have different striping patterns on various parts of their bodies. These areas were each coded for stripe number and intensity. Species’ and subspecies’ geographic ranges were then mapped. These were then overlaid with maps of woodlands, temperature isoclines, historical predators, tsetse flies and proxies for tabanid fly activity, as well as equid group sizes. The percent of species’ and subspecies’ ranges that overlapped with each factor were then compared with their measures of striping in phylogenetically controlled analyses. Striping on the face, neck, flank, rump, legs and shadow stripe severity is associated with six or more consecutive months of tabanid biting fly activity but with no other factor. Belly stripe number is associated with tsetse distribution. Furthermore, zebras have thin pelage and are thus susceptible to probing biting flies, and tabanids carry four diseases fatal to zebras. A separate intraspecific analysis of plains zebras by other researchers showed that striping is associated with temperature and was interpreted as cooling the animal on its back bu,t for other parts of the body, with foiling ectoparasites that carry diseases. Both multifactorial studies showed that warm humid conditions conducive to tabanid reproduction are associated with striping.

Keywords:   comparative analyses, diseases, pelage, geographic range maps, horse flies, tabanids, tsetse flies

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