Factors affecting follower responses to movement calls in cooperatively breeding dwarf mongooses

Benjamin T Cobb*, Amy Morris-Drake, Patrick Kennedy, Megan R Layton, Julie M Kern, Andrew N Radford

*Corresponding author for this work

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

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Abstract

In social species, individuals maximise the benefits of group-living by remaining cohesive and coordinating their actions. Communication is key to collective action, including ensuring that group members move together; individuals often produce signals when attempting to lead a group to a new area. However, the function of these signals, and how responses to them are affected by intrinsic characteristics of the caller and extrinsic factors, has rarely been experimentally tested. We conducted a series of field-based playback experiments with habituated wild dwarf mongooses (Helogale parvula), a cooperatively breeding and territorial species, to investigate follower responses to movement calls. In our first experiment, we found that focal individuals were more likely to respond to playback of movement calls than control close calls, indicating movement calls function as recruitment signals. In a second experiment, we found that focal individuals responded similarly to the movement calls of dominant and subordinate groupmates, suggesting that dominance status (an intrinsic factor) does not influence receiver responses. In a final experiment, we found that individuals responded to the simulated presence of a rival group, but that this outgroup conflict (an extrinsic factor) did not affect responses to movement calls compared to a control situation. This may be because attention is instead focused on the potential presence of an imminent threat. By using playbacks to isolate the acoustic signal from physical movement cues, our results provide experimental evidence of how movement calls help leaders to attract followers and thus adds to our understanding of recruitment signals more generally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-169
Number of pages11
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume192
Early online date18 Aug 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Henny Yeates for access to their land, Charlie Cobb and Will Guerrini for their tremendous support in the field and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments on the manuscript. This work was funded by a European Research Council Consolidator Grant (no. 682253) awarded to A.N.R. and P.K. was supported by a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship (895220).

Funding Information:
We thank Henny Yeates for access to their land, Charlie Cobb and Will Guerrini for their tremendous support in the field and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments on the manuscript. This work was funded by a European Research Council Consolidator Grant (no. 682253 ) awarded to A.N.R., and P.K. was supported by a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship ( 895220 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors

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