A. Social structure.
1. Walruses are among the most gregarious of animals. They exhibit social behavior all year and congregate by the hundreds. Walruses haul out in herds; they seldom haul out alone.
2. Males and females form separate herds.
3. Social dominance is well established in herds and subgroups. Dominance within herds
is established by tusk size, body size, and aggressiveness. The largest walruses with the
longest tusks are the most aggressive and threatening. Animals that are smaller or those
with small or broken tusks have a lower social ranking.
B. Social behavior.
1. The role of tusks is primarily social. Walruses use them in dominance displays, and they are only secondarily used as weapons.
2. A male will fight if another male intrudes upon him during a courtship display. These fights often result in physical injury. The frequent scars and lacerations seen on the necks and shoulders of adult males after the breeding season are evidence of tusking.
3. Individuals frequently compete for the most favorable haul-out sites.
4. Vocalizations are an important part of a male's courtship display for females
5. Adult walruses occasionally trample walrus calves, but this is generally accidental rather than aggressive behavior.
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