Conflict within and between groups of cooperative banded mongooses
Thompson, Faye Jacqueline
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
Embargoed to allow time for outstanding chapters to be published.
Conflict within and between social groups is a conspicuous feature of cooperative animal societies. Theoretical and empirical research aims to understand the role of within- and between-group conflict in the evolution of cooperative behaviour, but these forms of conflict are rarely studied together. Eviction as a means of within-group conflict resolution can have important implications for the individuals involved, and the wider population through effects on dispersal, gene flow, and population structure. Intergroup conflict, although prevalent in many social species, is relatively understudied outside of humans and chimpanzees, but could play an important role in the evolution of cooperative behaviours. However, currently there is a lack of understanding of the causes and consequences of within- and between-group conflict to be able to draw conclusions on theoretical links to their role in social evolution. In this thesis, I use a wild population of banded mongooses, Mungos mungo, to investigate the causes and consequences of eviction and intergroup conflict in a highly cooperative species. First, I show that eviction in banded mongooses is triggered by reproductive competition in both sexes (Chapter 2). Second, I find that, once the decision to evict has been made, younger females and those older, more closely related females are preferentially evicted (Chapter 3). This surprising result is explained by a theoretical model which shows that, where individuals are capable of resisting eviction, the usual prediction of positive kin discrimination can be reversed. Third, I show that eviction has demographic effects, with consequences for group size and recruitment (Chapter 4). Finally, I show that intergroup conflict is stimulated by intensified resource competition, and that the consequences of intergroup conflict can have measureable costs to both individuals and groups in the long- and short-term (Chapter 5). This work shows that the means of resolving within-group conflict at an individual level can resonate to affect demography and dynamics at higher levels, and that the nature and intensity of intergroup conflict has the potential to influence patterns of cooperation and conflict within groups. I suggest that within- and between-group conflict may often be intimately linked, and that recognising this link could help to advance our conceptual understanding of their role in the evolution of cooperative behaviour.
Natural Environment Research Council
Thompson FJ, Marshall HH, Sanderson JL, Vitikainen EIK, Nichols HJ, Gilchrist JS, Young AJ, Hodge SJ, Cant MA. 2016 Reproductive competition triggers mass eviction in cooperative banded mongooses. Proc. R. Soc. B 283: 20152607
Thompson FJ, Marshall HH, Vitikainen EIK, Cant MA. 2017 Causes and consequences of intergroup conflict in cooperative banded mongooses. Anim. Behav. 126:31-40
PhD in Biological Sciences