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In many species, within-group conflict leads to immediate avoidance of potential aggressors or increases in affiliation, but no studies have investigated delayed post-conflict management behaviour. Here, we experimentally test that possibility using a wild but habituated populations of dwarf mongooses (Helogale parvula). First, we used natural and playback-simulated foraging displacements to demonstrate that bystanders take notice of the vocalisations produced during such within-group conflict events, but that they do not engage in any immediate post-conflict affiliative behaviour with the protagonists or other bystanders. We then used another playback experiment to assess delayed effects of within-group conflict on grooming interactions: we examined affiliative behaviour at the evening sleeping burrow when there had been 30–60 min since the most recent simulated foraging displacement. Overall, fewer individuals groomed on evenings following an afternoon of simulated conflict, but those that did groomed more than on control evenings. Subordinate bystanders groomed with the simulated aggressor significantly less, and groomed more with one another, on conflict compared to control evenings. Our study provides experimental evidence that dwarf mongooses acoustically obtain information about within-group contests (including protagonist identity), retain that information and use it to inform conflict-management decisions with a temporal delay.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
H2020 European Research Council 682253 Andrew N Radford.
The study was undertaken by permission from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Limpopo Province (permit number: 001-CPM403-00013) and the Ethical Review Group, University of Bristol (University Investigator Number: UIN/17/074).
© Morris-Drake et al.