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A reduced propensity to cooperate under enhanced exploitation risk in a social mammal


Ferrari, Manuela; Lindholm, Anna K; König, Barbara (2016). A reduced propensity to cooperate under enhanced exploitation risk in a social mammal. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 283(1830):20160068.

Abstract

Conditional adjustment of cooperativeness to the expected pay-off might be a useful strategy to avoid being exploited in public good situations. Parental care provided towards all offspring in a communal nest (containing offspring of several females) resembles a public good. Females indiscriminately caring for all young share the costs equally, but the pay-off may vary depending on their contribution to the joint nest (number of own offspring). Females with fewer offspring in the joint nest will be exploited and overinvest relative to their contribution. We experimentally created a situation of high conflict in communally nursing house mice, by using a genetic tool to create a difference in birth litter sizes. Females in the high conflict situation (unequal litter sizes at birth) showed a reduced propensity to give birth as part of a communal nest, therefore adjusting their cooperativeness to the circumstances.

Abstract

Conditional adjustment of cooperativeness to the expected pay-off might be a useful strategy to avoid being exploited in public good situations. Parental care provided towards all offspring in a communal nest (containing offspring of several females) resembles a public good. Females indiscriminately caring for all young share the costs equally, but the pay-off may vary depending on their contribution to the joint nest (number of own offspring). Females with fewer offspring in the joint nest will be exploited and overinvest relative to their contribution. We experimentally created a situation of high conflict in communally nursing house mice, by using a genetic tool to create a difference in birth litter sizes. Females in the high conflict situation (unequal litter sizes at birth) showed a reduced propensity to give birth as part of a communal nest, therefore adjusting their cooperativeness to the circumstances.

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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)
Language:English
Date:11 May 2016
Deposited On:14 Sep 2016 14:46
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 20:23
Publisher:Royal Society Publishing
ISSN:0962-8452
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2016.0068

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