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Explaining negative kin discrimination in a cooperative mammal society.

Thompson, FJ and Cant, MA and Marshall, HH and Vitikainen, EIK and Sanderson, JL and Nichols, HJ and Gilchrist, JS and Bell, MBV and Young, AJ and Hodge, SJ and Johnstone, RA (2017) Explaining negative kin discrimination in a cooperative mammal society. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA, 114 (20). pp. 5207-5212. ISSN 1091-6490

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Abstract

Kin selection theory predicts that, where kin discrimination is possible, animals should typically act more favorably toward closer genetic relatives and direct aggression toward less closely related individuals. Contrary to this prediction, we present data from an 18-y study of wild banded mongooses, Mungos mungo, showing that females that are more closely related to dominant individuals are specifically targeted for forcible eviction from the group, often suffering severe injury, and sometimes death, as a result. This pattern cannot be explained by inbreeding avoidance or as a response to more intense local competition among kin. Instead, we use game theory to show that such negative kin discrimination can be explained by selection for unrelated targets to invest more effort in resisting eviction. Consistent with our model, negative kin discrimination is restricted to eviction attempts of older females capable of resistance; dominants exhibit no kin discrimination when attempting to evict younger females, nor do they discriminate between more closely or less closely related young when carrying out infanticidal attacks on vulnerable infants who cannot defend themselves. We suggest that in contexts where recipients of selfish acts are capable of resistance, the usual prediction of positive kin discrimination can be reversed. Kin selection theory, as an explanation for social behavior, can benefit from much greater exploration of sequential social interactions.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: MD Multidisciplinary
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH426 Genetics
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Natural Sciences and Psychology
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
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Date Deposited: 22 May 2017 10:33
Last Modified: 22 May 2017 10:33
DOI or Identification number: 10.1073/pnas.1612235114
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/6551

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