Group Behavior

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Science  29 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6358, pp. 1367
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6358.1367-a

African wild dogs vote with sneezes.

PHOTO: WIM VAN DEN HEEVER/MINDEN PICTURES

What drives group actions in social species has long been of interest. After all, even among humans, who can actively negotiate, group actions can be challenging. In some cases, such as fish schooling, the driver can be a majority of movement in a certain direction. Often, however, there is an initiator, or a quorum decision among participants is reached. African wild dogs are a highly social and cooperative species with a strong dominance hierarchy. Walker et al. characterized prehunting rallies in this species and found that individual dogs vote with sneezes. Specifically, when more dogs sneeze, the pack is more likely to head out on a hunting trip. Dominant individuals required fewer sneezes to initiate a trip, but even they needed sneeze support. Thus, each dog has a voice in the decision.

Proc. R. Soc. B 10.1098/rspb.2017.0347 (2017).

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