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Take my enemy, please

Relocated kangaroo rats can thrive when territorial rivals move with them

6:58pm, October 14, 2011

Even solitary creatures do better when a new place has the same old jerks next door.

Stephens’ kangaroo rats, on the U.S. list of endangered species since 1988, live by themselves most of the time in plots of California grassland that they defend from nearby members of their species. When conservationists moved animals to safer homes away from development, familiar rivals relocated together fared better than kangaroo rats grouped with strangers, says conservation biologist Debra Shier of the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.

This boost may come from what’s been called a “dear enemy effect,” Shier and institute colleague Ronald Swais

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