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Male services during between-group conflict: the ‘hired gun’ hypothesis revisited


Bshary, Redouan; Richter, Xiang-Yi Li; van Schaik, Carel (2022). Male services during between-group conflict: the ‘hired gun’ hypothesis revisited. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences, 377(1851):20210150.

Abstract

In many group-living mammals, philopatric females form the stable core of the group and defend food or shelter against other groups of females. Where males are larger, their participation could give their female group the edge. How can females secure the contribution of males that are neither the father of current infants, nor the dominant male expecting to sire the next generation of infants? It has been proposed that females recruit these males as ‘hired guns’, receiving social support and copulations in exchange for fighting, against the interests of the dominant male. We first develop the logic of this hypothesis in unprecedented detail by considering the potential pay-off consequences for females and males. We then provide empirical evidence for the existence of hired guns in this context in several primate species. The game-theoretical aspects of the phenomenon remain to be studied, as is the distribution across contexts (e.g. predation avoidance) and species of the hired gun phenomenon.

This article is part of the theme issue ‘Intergroup conflict across taxa’.

Abstract

In many group-living mammals, philopatric females form the stable core of the group and defend food or shelter against other groups of females. Where males are larger, their participation could give their female group the edge. How can females secure the contribution of males that are neither the father of current infants, nor the dominant male expecting to sire the next generation of infants? It has been proposed that females recruit these males as ‘hired guns’, receiving social support and copulations in exchange for fighting, against the interests of the dominant male. We first develop the logic of this hypothesis in unprecedented detail by considering the potential pay-off consequences for females and males. We then provide empirical evidence for the existence of hired guns in this context in several primate species. The game-theoretical aspects of the phenomenon remain to be studied, as is the distribution across contexts (e.g. predation avoidance) and species of the hired gun phenomenon.

This article is part of the theme issue ‘Intergroup conflict across taxa’.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Evolutionary Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Life Sciences > General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Agricultural and Biological Sciences, General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Language:English
Date:23 May 2022
Deposited On:06 Feb 2023 17:02
Last Modified:28 Jun 2024 01:39
Publisher:Royal Society Publishing
ISSN:0962-8436
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2021.0150
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID180145
  • : Project TitleTowards a more biologically informed evolutionary game theory