Social stability and helping in small animal societies

Field, Jeremy and Cant, Michael A. (2009) Social stability and helping in small animal societies. Proceedings B: Biological Sciences, 364 (1533). pp. 3181-3189. ISSN 0962-8436

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In primitively eusocial societies, all individuals can potentially reproduce independently. The key fact that we focus on in this paper is that individuals in such societies instead often queue to inherit breeding positions. Queuing leads to systematic differences in expected future fitness. We first discuss the implications this has for variation in behaviour. For example, because helpers nearer to the front of the queue have more to lose, they should work less hard to rear the dominant's offspring. However, higher rankers may be more aggressive than low rankers, even if they risk injury in the process, if aggression functions to maintain or enhance queue position. Second, we discuss how queuing rules may be enforced through hidden threats that rarely have to be carried out. In fishes, rule breakers face the threat of eviction from the group. In contrast, subordinate paper wasps are not injured or evicted during escalated challenges against the dominant, perhaps because they are more valuable to the dominant. We discuss evidence that paper-wasp dominants avoid escalated conflicts by ceding reproduction to subordinates. Queuing rules appear usually to be enforced by individuals adjacent in the queue rather than by dominants. Further manipulative studies are required to reveal mechanisms underlying queue stability and to elucidate what determines queue position in the first place.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Issue No 1533
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: Jeremy Field
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:10
Last Modified: 26 Mar 2012 15:12
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