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Mutual recognition of pups and providers in the cooperatively breeding banded mongoose


Müller, C A; Manser, M B (2008). Mutual recognition of pups and providers in the cooperatively breeding banded mongoose. Animal Behaviour, 75(5):1683-1692.

Abstract

Adults providing food to offspring are predicted to allocate care in a way that maximizes their fitness. Providers across taxa have been demonstrated to show preferences for particular young depending on the degree of relatedness, offspring sex or size. However, little is known about the cues providers use to discriminate among individual offspring. In the banded mongoose, Mungos mungo, a cooperatively breeding carnivore, dependent pups form long-lasting and exclusive associations with particular adults, their ‘escorts’, and receive the majority of care from these individuals. We performed acoustic analyses of pup distress calls and escort contact calls and found that pup distress calls are highly and escort contact calls are moderately individualized. In subsequent playback experiments, both pups and escorts were more responsive to calls of their association partners than to calls of other individuals. These results suggest that pups and escorts recognize each other vo
cally and mutually, and that both pups and providers contribute to the maintenance of the pup-escort associations. Pups may benefit from vocal recognition of their escorts since this reduces the time spent alone, vulnerable to predators and without being fed. Escorts may be more responsive to their associated pup’s calls than to another pup’s calls because they preferentially care for this particular individual and/or because they were primed by constant exposure to its calls.

Adults providing food to offspring are predicted to allocate care in a way that maximizes their fitness. Providers across taxa have been demonstrated to show preferences for particular young depending on the degree of relatedness, offspring sex or size. However, little is known about the cues providers use to discriminate among individual offspring. In the banded mongoose, Mungos mungo, a cooperatively breeding carnivore, dependent pups form long-lasting and exclusive associations with particular adults, their ‘escorts’, and receive the majority of care from these individuals. We performed acoustic analyses of pup distress calls and escort contact calls and found that pup distress calls are highly and escort contact calls are moderately individualized. In subsequent playback experiments, both pups and escorts were more responsive to calls of their association partners than to calls of other individuals. These results suggest that pups and escorts recognize each other vo
cally and mutually, and that both pups and providers contribute to the maintenance of the pup-escort associations. Pups may benefit from vocal recognition of their escorts since this reduces the time spent alone, vulnerable to predators and without being fed. Escorts may be more responsive to their associated pup’s calls than to another pup’s calls because they preferentially care for this particular individual and/or because they were primed by constant exposure to its calls.

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27 citations in Web of Science®
27 citations in Scopus®
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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:banded mongoose; cooperative breeding; Herpestidae; individual recognition; Mungos mungo; playback
Language:English
Date:22 January 2008
Deposited On:23 Oct 2008 16:16
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:30
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0003-3472
Publisher DOI:10.1016/j.anbehav.2007.10.021
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-4357

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