Mangoes give thugs the cold shoulder, scientists find

Mangoes give thugs the cold shoulder, scientists find

A dwarf mangust. Credit: Shannon Wild

Conflict management within a group is a central feature of the lives of humans and many social animals, where participants are known to adopt different strategies in the immediate aftermath to minimize costs. The study, published today in the journal eLife by a team at the University of Bristol, shows that individuals who are not involved in the quarrels can both track the aggressive behavior of others and act on that information at a later date.

Main author Dr. Amy Morris-Drake, of Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences, said: “Conflict management strategies have evolved to preserve peace in species as diverse as chimpanzees, ravens and domestic dogs. interactions and remember who the bullies are and refuse to groom them later. “

By working with wild groups of mongooses accustomed to their close presence, the research team was able to collect detailed observations and test their ideas experimentally under natural conditions.

Co-author Dr. Julie Kern, now based at the University of New England, Australia, said: “The crucial experiment involved simulating the occurrence of food competitions between two group members during the afternoon through playing vocalizations given by aggressors and victims. The rest of the group therefore listened “what sounded like repeated quarrels involving these people.”

Senior author Prof. Andy Radford, also from Bristol, added: “On experimental days, we recorded all the care that individuals engaged with their peers back at the sleeping cave that night. Being cared for helps with hygiene and reduces anxiety, and the care supports social relationships. , then is the core of social life. “

Mangoes give thugs the cold shoulder, scientists find

Two mongooses usually. Credit: Shannon Wild

On evenings that followed the simulation of increased conflict within the group, subordinate mangust group members cared more with each other than on control evenings. Most strikingly, the subordinates also ignored the perceived aggressors, who received significantly less care than on other occasions.

Dr. Morris-Drake said: “This shows that dwarf manguers keep an eye on conflicts that arise between their group mates. They can identify bullies simply from the vocalizations given during disputes, store this information and implement a delayed conflict management strategy, in this case give the bully the cold shoulder before bedtime. “

The results are important because it is often suggested that it is difficult for animals to remember previous quarrels between peers and then act on them later, especially when the individual was not involved in the interaction and with everyday life continues in the meantime.

Mangoes give thugs the cold shoulder, scientists find

A dwarf mangust engaged in an aggressive interaction over food. Credit: Shannon Wild

Dwarf mangoes are Africa’s smallest carnivore, living in cooperating breeding groups of 5-30 individuals. The work has been carried out as part of the Dwarf Mongoose Research Project, which has studied accustomed wild groups continuously since 2011. The study animals are individually marked with blonde hair color, are trained in climbing a balance weight to weigh themselves and can be seen from kl. a few feet away while walking about their natural behavior under ecologically valid conditions.

Mongoose remembers and rewards helpful friends

More information:
Amy Morris-Drake et al., Experimental Evidence for Delayed Post-Conflict Management Behavior in Wild Dwarf Mango, eLife (2021). DOI: 10.1101 / 2021.05.02.442338

Journal information:

Provided by the University of Bristol

Citation: Manguster gives thugs the cold shoulder, researchers find (2021, November 2) retrieved November 2, 2021 from

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