Several authors have suggested that the African antelope (family Bovidae) exemplify coadaptation of ecological, behavioral, and morphological traits. We tested four hypotheses related to the ecology and behavior of 75 species of African antelope using both conventional statistical techniques and techniques that account for the non-independence of species by considering their phylogenetic relationships. Specifically, we tested the hypotheses that (1) dietary selectivity is correlated negatively with body mass and (2) group size, (3) that gregarious species either flee or counter-attack when approached by predators, but that solitary and pair-living species seek cover to hide, and (4) that body mass and group size are correlated positively. Each of these hypotheses was examined for the global data set (family Bovidae) and, when possible, within the two antelope sub-families (Antilopinae and Bovinae) and within seven of the ten antelope tribes. The results of our conventional and phylogenetically corrected analyses supported the hypotheses that group and body size vary predictably with feeding style, and that anti-predator behavior varies with group size. The hypothesis that body mass and group size are correlated positively was supported by conventional statistics, but these two traits were only weakly related using a phylogenetically corrected analysis. Moreover, qualitative and quantitative comparisons within each of the eight major African antelope tribes generally gave little support for the four hypotheses tested. Thus, although our analyses at the sub-family level provided results that were consistent with prior hypotheses, our analyses at the level of tribes were equivocal. We discuss several possible explanations for these differences.
Copyright 2000 International Society for Behavioral Ecology