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The evolution of food sharing in primates


Jaeggi, A V; van Schaik, C P (2011). The evolution of food sharing in primates. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 65(11):2125-2140.

Abstract

The aim of this study is to explain the occurrence
of food sharing across primates. Defined as the unresisted
transfer of food, evolutionary hypotheses have to explain
why possessors should relinquish food rather than keep it.
While sharing with offspring can be explained by kin
selection, explanations for sharing among unrelated adults
are more controversial. Here we test the hypothesis that
sharing occurs with social partners that have leverage over
food possessors due to the opportunity for partner choice in
other contexts. Thus, we predict that possessors should
relinquish food to potential mates or allies, who could
provide or withhold matings or coalitionary support in the
future. We used phylogenetic analyses based on both
maximum likelihood and Bayesian approaches in a sample
of 68 primate species to test these predictions. The analyses
strongly indicate that (1) sharing with offspring is predicted
by the relative processing difficulty of the diet, as measured by the degree of extractive foraging, but not overall diet
quality, (2) food sharing among adults only evolved in
species already sharing with offspring, regardless of diet,
and (3) male–female sharing co-evolved with the opportunity
for female mate choice and sharing within the sexes
with coalition formation. These results provide comparative
support for the hypothesis that sharing is “traded” for
matings and coalitionary support in the sense that these
services are statistically associated and can thus be selected
for. Based on this, we predict that sharing should occur in
any species with opportunities for partner choice.

Abstract

The aim of this study is to explain the occurrence
of food sharing across primates. Defined as the unresisted
transfer of food, evolutionary hypotheses have to explain
why possessors should relinquish food rather than keep it.
While sharing with offspring can be explained by kin
selection, explanations for sharing among unrelated adults
are more controversial. Here we test the hypothesis that
sharing occurs with social partners that have leverage over
food possessors due to the opportunity for partner choice in
other contexts. Thus, we predict that possessors should
relinquish food to potential mates or allies, who could
provide or withhold matings or coalitionary support in the
future. We used phylogenetic analyses based on both
maximum likelihood and Bayesian approaches in a sample
of 68 primate species to test these predictions. The analyses
strongly indicate that (1) sharing with offspring is predicted
by the relative processing difficulty of the diet, as measured by the degree of extractive foraging, but not overall diet
quality, (2) food sharing among adults only evolved in
species already sharing with offspring, regardless of diet,
and (3) male–female sharing co-evolved with the opportunity
for female mate choice and sharing within the sexes
with coalition formation. These results provide comparative
support for the hypothesis that sharing is “traded” for
matings and coalitionary support in the sense that these
services are statistically associated and can thus be selected
for. Based on this, we predict that sharing should occur in
any species with opportunities for partner choice.

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49 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
08 University Research Priority Programs > Ethics
Dewey Decimal Classification:170 Ethics
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:29 Feb 2012 13:06
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:29
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0340-5443
Additional Information:The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-011-1221-3

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