Social-bond strength influences vocally-mediated recruitment to mobbing

Julie Kern, Andy Radford

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

19 Citations (Scopus)
269 Downloads (Pure)


Strong social bonds form between individuals in many group-living species, and these relationships can have important fitness benefits. When responding to vocalisations produced by groupmates, receivers are expected to adjust their behaviour depending on the nature of the bond they share with the signaller. Here we investigate whether the strength of the signaller–receiver social bond affects response to calls that attract others to help mob a predator. Using field-based playback experiments on a habituated population of wild dwarf mongooses (Helogale parvula), we first demonstrate that a particular vocalisation given on detecting predatory snakes does act as a recruitment call; receivers were more likely to look, approach and engage in mobbing behaviour than in response to control close calls. We then show that individuals respond more strongly to these recruitment calls if they are from groupmates with whom they are more strongly bonded (those with whom they preferentially groom and forage). Our study therefore provides novel evidence about the anti-predator benefits of close bonds within social groups.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20160648
Number of pages4
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number11
Early online date30 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


  • social bonds
  • vocal communication
  • recruitment calling
  • snake mobbing
  • anti-predator behaviour
  • dwarf mongoose

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Social-bond strength influences vocally-mediated recruitment to mobbing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this