Report

Cooperation, Control, and Concession in Meerkat Groups

Science  19 Jan 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5503, pp. 478-481
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5503.478

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Abstract

“Limited control” models of reproductive skew in cooperative societies suggest that the frequency of breeding by subordinates is determined by the outcome of power struggles with dominants. In contrast, “optimal skew” models suggest that dominants have full control of subordinate reproduction and allow subordinates to breed only when this serves to retain subordinates' assistance with rearing dominants' own litters. The results of our 7-year field study of cooperative meerkats, Suricata suricatta, support the predictions of limited control models and provide no indication that dominant females grant reproductive concessions to subordinates to retain their assistance with future breeding attempts.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: thcb{at}hermes.cam.ac.uk

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