Territory (animal)

A male South China tiger scent-marking his territory

In ethology, territory is the sociographical area that an animal consistently defends against conspecific competition (or, occasionally, against animals of other species) using agonistic behaviors or (less commonly) real physical aggression. Animals that actively defend territories in this way are referred to as being territorial or displaying territorialism.

Territoriality is only shown by a minority of species. More commonly, an individual or a group of animals occupies an area that it habitually uses but does not necessarily defend; this is called its home range. The home ranges of different groups of animals often overlap, and in these overlap areas the groups tend to avoid each other rather than seeking to confront and expel each other. Within the home range there may be a core area that no other individual group uses, but, again, this is as a result of avoidance.

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