Experimental evidence for delayed post-conflict management behaviour in wild dwarf mongooses

Amy Morris-Drake*, Julie M Kern, Andrew N Radford

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 13 Sep 2021


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