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. 2015 Nov 1;69(11):1835-1843.
doi: 10.1007/s00265-015-1996-8. Epub 2015 Aug 29.

Relatedness Predicts Multiple Measures of Investment in Cooperative Nest Construction in Sociable Weavers

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Relatedness Predicts Multiple Measures of Investment in Cooperative Nest Construction in Sociable Weavers

Gavin M Leighton et al. Behav Ecol Sociobiol. .
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Abstract

Although communal goods are often critical to society, they are simultaneously susceptible to exploitation and are evolutionarily stable only if mechanisms exist to curtail exploitation. Mechanisms such as punishment and kin selection have been offered as general explanations for how communal resources can be maintained. Evidence for these mechanisms comes largely from humans and social insects, leaving their generality in question. To assess how communal resources are maintained, we observed cooperative nest construction in sociable weavers (Philetairus socius). The communal nest of sociable weavers provides thermal benefits for all individuals but requires continual maintenance. We observed cooperative nest construction and also recorded basic morphological characteristics. We also collected blood samples, performed next-generation sequencing, and isolated 2358 variable single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to estimate relatedness. We find that relatedness predicts investment in cooperative nest construction, while no other morphological characters significantly explain cooperative output. We argue that indirect benefits are a critical fitness component for maintaining the cooperative behavior that maintains the communal good.

Keywords: Cooperation; Inclusive fitness; Kin selection; Sociable weavers; Tragedy of the commons.

Figures

Fig. 1
Fig. 1
a Boxplot comparing the cooperative output of sexes in sociable weavers. Males devote significantly more time to cooperative nest construction than females. b Boxplot comparing the cooperative output of sexes in sociable weavers. Males insert significantly more items into the nest exterior than females. The median is represented by the line in the box and the 25 and 75 % percentiles are the lower and upper edges of the box, respectively. Outliers (individuals that are more than 1.5× the inter-quartile range from an edge of the box) are plotted as circles
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Boxplot of mean pairwise relatedness to colony of residence. Pairwise relatedness estimated by computing relatedness of a focal individual to their colony of residence. Males tend to be more related to their colony of residence than females. The median is represented by the line in the box and the 25 and 75 % percentiles are the lower and upper edges of the box, respectively. Outliers (individuals that are more than 1.5× the inter-quartile range from an edge of the box) are plotted as circle
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
a Plot of time devoted to cooperative nest construction versus the relatedness of the individual to the colony of residence. There is a significant (p<0.05) positive relationship between time spent on cooperative nest construction and relatedness. b Regression of number of items inserted into nest superstructure on relatedness of the individual to the colony of residence. There is a significant relationship (p<0.05) between number of items inserted into the nest exterior and relatedness of the individual. For both plots, the lines represent the fitted line based on the generalized linear model, where the solid line represents the fitted values for males and the dashed line represents the fitted line for females. In both plots, filled circles represent male values while open circles represent female values

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