Differences in cooperative behavior among Damaraland mole rats are consequences of an age-related polyethism
Ticó, Miquel Torrents
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
National Academy of Sciences
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Zöttl, M., Vullioud, P., Mendonça, R., Ticó, M. T., Gaynor, D., Mitchell, A., & Clutton-Brock, T. (2016). Differences in cooperative behavior among Damaraland mole rats are consequences of an age-related polyethism. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1607885113
In many cooperative breeders, the contributions of helpers to cooperative activities change with age, resulting in age-related polyethisms. In contrast, some studies of social mole rats (including naked mole rats, Heterocephalus glaber, and Damaraland mole rats, Fukomys damarensis) suggest that individual differences in cooperative behavior are the result of divergent developmental pathways, leading to discrete and permanent functional categories of helpers that resemble the caste systems found in eusocial insects. Here we show that, in Damaraland mole rats, individual contributions to cooperative behavior increase with age and are higher in fast-growing individuals. Individual contributions to different cooperative tasks are intercorrelated and repeatability of cooperative behavior is similar to that found in other cooperatively breeding vertebrates. Our data provide no evidence that nonreproductive individuals show divergent developmental pathways or specialize in particular tasks. Instead of representing a caste system, variation in the behavior of nonreproductive individuals in Damaraland mole rats closely resembles that found in other cooperatively breeding mammals and appears to be a consequence of age-related polyethism.
caste, division of labour, cooperative breeding, eusociality
This study was funded by an European Research Council grant to THCB (294494).
European Research Council (294494)
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1607885113
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/257332