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Evidence of helping behaviour in a free-ranging population of communally breeding warthogs


White, AM and Cameron, EZ, Evidence of helping behaviour in a free-ranging population of communally breeding warthogs, Journal of Ethology, 29 pp. 419-425. ISSN 0289-0771 (2011) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2011 Japan Ethological Society and Springer.

DOI: doi:10.1007/s10164-011-0268-y


Cooperative breeding societies are defined by the presence of helpers. Defining helping behavior in cooperatively breeding mammals has been difficult because lactation limits the ability of individuals to pro- vision non-genetic young. As a consequence, ‘‘helping’’ behavior has frequently included predator and conspecific defense and thermoregulation. However, these behaviors are often associated with the benefits of group living and their expression may not warrant a species’ classification as a cooperative breeder (e.g., many ungulates and pinnipeds). In this study, we examine cooperative breeding behavior in the common warthog, Phacochoerus africanus. Warthogs exhibit substantial variation in breeding strategies and females will raise their young alone or in association with other females. The size of warthog groups varies throughout the year and we investigate fission and fusion of individual breeding groups to elucidate the costs and benefits of adopting different reproductive strategies. We found that the cohesion of female groups was related toparturition suggesting that there are benefits to sociality that are related to the production and care of offspring. Additionally, we found that reproductively-aged group members will help other group members by both baby- sitting and adopting the group’s offspring indicating active selection for cooperation. We did not witness any inci- dences of yearling group members exhibiting these behaviors indicating differential trade-offs to cooperation possibly related to the helper’s age/experience.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Warthog ! Phacochoerus africanus ! Group living ! Cooperative breeding ! Helpers
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Zoology
Research Field:Animal developmental and reproductive biology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Other environmental management
Objective Field:Other environmental management not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Cameron, EZ (Professor Elissa Cameron)
ID Code:72468
Year Published:2011
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2011-08-26
Last Modified:2017-08-23

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