The origins of consistent individual differences in cooperation in wild banded mongooses, Mungos mungo

Sanderson, Jennifer L., Stott, Iain, Young, Andrew J. , Vitikainen, Emma I.K., Hodge, Sarah J. and Cant, Michael A. (2015) The origins of consistent individual differences in cooperation in wild banded mongooses, Mungos mungo. Animal Behaviour, 107 . pp. 193-200. ISSN 0003-3472

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Individual differences in contributions to cooperation can be strikingly consistent over time giving rise to alternative cooperative phenotypes within animal societies. Following the social niche specialization hypothesis, these consistent differences may be driven by social conflict over reproductive opportunities if individuals specializing as ‘breeders’ and ‘nonbreeders’ experience a beneficial reduction in social conflict and differential costs associated with cooperating. This hypothesis gives three testable predictions: (1) consistent individual differences in cooperative behaviour will be accompanied by consistent individual differences in reproductive behaviour, (2) individuals contributing heavily to reproduction will contribute relatively little to cooperative behaviours within the same breeding attempt and vice versa, and (3) individuals that consistently contribute heavily to reproduction over their lifetime will also consistently contribute less to cooperative behaviours and vice versa. We tested these predictions with a 15-year investigation into the lifetime patterns of mate guarding and two forms of cooperative offspring care (‘babysitting’ and ‘escorting’) in a wild population of banded mongooses. We found significant repeatability of individual contributions to both cooperative behaviours, as well as significant repeatability of individual levels of mate guarding. However, we found no evidence of negative covariance between contributions to cooperative and reproductive behaviours either within breeding attempts or across lifetimes. This suggests that the observed consistent individual differences in both cooperative behaviour and reproduction are not associated; there is no evidence of a trade-off between reproduction and cooperation. However, we found a significant positive covariance between babysitting and escorting when estimated both within breeding attempts and across lifetimes, which suggests that some group members are generally more cooperative than others, contributing more to both behaviours over their lifetimes. The drivers of this consistent individual variation in contributions to cooperation remain unknown.

Keywords:banded mongoose, cooperation, repeatability, reproduction, social niche hypothesis
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C120 Behavioural Biology
C Biological Sciences > C182 Evolution
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:36170
Deposited On:08 Oct 2019 09:52

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