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'Nasty neighbours' rather than 'dear enemies' in a social carnivore


Müller, C A; Manser, M B (2007). 'Nasty neighbours' rather than 'dear enemies' in a social carnivore. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 274(1612):959-965.

Abstract

Territorial animals typically respond less aggressively to neighbours than to strangers. This ‘dear enemy effect’ has been explained by differing familiarity or by different threat levels posed by neighbours and strangers. In most species, both the familiarity and the threat-level hypothesis predict a stronger response to strangers than to neighbours. In contrast, the threat-level hypothesis predicts a stronger response to neighbours than strangers in species with intense competition between neighbours and with residents outnumbering strangers, as commonly found in social mammals such as the banded mongoose (Mungos mungo). The familiarity hypothesis predicts reduced aggression towards neighbours also in these species. We exposed free-living banded mongoose groups to translocated scent marks of neighbouring groups and strangers. Groups vocalised more and inspected more samples in response to olfactory cues of neighbours than to the strangers. Our results support the threat-lev el hypothesis and contradict the familiarity hypothesis. We suggest that increased aggression towards neighbours is more common in social species with intense competition between neighbours, as opposed to reduced aggression towards neighbours typical for solitary species.

Territorial animals typically respond less aggressively to neighbours than to strangers. This ‘dear enemy effect’ has been explained by differing familiarity or by different threat levels posed by neighbours and strangers. In most species, both the familiarity and the threat-level hypothesis predict a stronger response to strangers than to neighbours. In contrast, the threat-level hypothesis predicts a stronger response to neighbours than strangers in species with intense competition between neighbours and with residents outnumbering strangers, as commonly found in social mammals such as the banded mongoose (Mungos mungo). The familiarity hypothesis predicts reduced aggression towards neighbours also in these species. We exposed free-living banded mongoose groups to translocated scent marks of neighbouring groups and strangers. Groups vocalised more and inspected more samples in response to olfactory cues of neighbours than to the strangers. Our results support the threat-lev el hypothesis and contradict the familiarity hypothesis. We suggest that increased aggression towards neighbours is more common in social species with intense competition between neighbours, as opposed to reduced aggression towards neighbours typical for solitary species.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:olfactory discrimination, neighbour recognition, habituation, territoriality, sociality, Herpestidae
Language:English
Date:2007
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:14
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:13
Publisher:Royal Society of London
ISSN:0962-8452
Publisher DOI:10.1098/rspb.2006.0222
PubMed ID:17251103
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-384

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