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Cooperation between non-kin in animal societies

Abstract

Explanations of cooperation between non-kin in animal societies often suggest that individuals exchange resources or services and that cooperation is maintained by reciprocity. But do cooperative interactions between unrelated individuals in non-human animals really resemble exchanges or are they a consequence of simpler mechanisms? Firm evidence of reciprocity in animal societies is rare and many examples of cooperation between non-kin probably represent cases of intra-specific mutualism or manipulation.

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Figure 1: Territorial choruses in birds and mammals.
Figure 2: Cooperative mobbing of potential predators by meerkats drives away potential predators.
Figure 3: Cooperative hunting in African wild dogs.
Figure 4: Alternating bouts of allo-grooming in social primates are one of the best documented examples of reciprocity.

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Acknowledgements

I thank M. Bell, S. Bowles, R. Boyd, M. Cant, A. Cockburn, N. Davies, A. Gardner, S. Hodge, R. Johnstone, A. Russell, S. Sharp, J. Silk, J. Stevens, M. Taborsky and S. West for discussions or for comments on this manuscript. I also thank C. R. Packer and R. Woodroffe for the use of their photographs.

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Clutton-Brock, T. Cooperation between non-kin in animal societies. Nature 462, 51–57 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature08366

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