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Selfish sentinels in cooperative mammals.


Clutton-Brock, T H; O'Riain, M J; Brotherton, P N; Gaynor, D; Kansky, R; Griffin, A S; Manser, M (1999). Selfish sentinels in cooperative mammals. Science, 284(5420):1640-1644.

Abstract

Like humans engaged in risky activities, group members of some animal societies take turns acting as sentinels. Explanations of the evolution of sentinel behavior have frequently relied on kin selection or reciprocal altruism, but recent models suggest that guarding may be an individual's optimal activity once its stomach is full if no other animal is on guard. This paper provides support for this last explanation by showing that, in groups of meerkats (Suricata suricatta), animals guard from safe sites, and solitary individuals as well as group members spend part of their time on guard. Though individuals seldom take successive guarding bouts, there is no regular rota, and the provision of food increases contributions to guarding and reduces the latency between bouts by the same individual.

Abstract

Like humans engaged in risky activities, group members of some animal societies take turns acting as sentinels. Explanations of the evolution of sentinel behavior have frequently relied on kin selection or reciprocal altruism, but recent models suggest that guarding may be an individual's optimal activity once its stomach is full if no other animal is on guard. This paper provides support for this last explanation by showing that, in groups of meerkats (Suricata suricatta), animals guard from safe sites, and solitary individuals as well as group members spend part of their time on guard. Though individuals seldom take successive guarding bouts, there is no regular rota, and the provision of food increases contributions to guarding and reduces the latency between bouts by the same individual.

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208 citations in Web of Science®
221 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed
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:1999
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:15
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:14
Publisher:American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
ISSN:0036-8075
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1126/science.284.5420.1640
PubMed ID:10356387

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