Live long and prosper : durable benefits of early-life care in banded mongooses

Show full item record



Vitikainen , E I K , Thompson , F J , Marshall , H H & Cant , M A 2019 , ' Live long and prosper : durable benefits of early-life care in banded mongooses ' , Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Biological Sciences , vol. 374 , no. 1770 , 20180114 .

Title: Live long and prosper : durable benefits of early-life care in banded mongooses
Author: Vitikainen, Emma I. K.; Thompson, Faye J.; Marshall, Harry H.; Cant, Michael A.
Contributor organization: Evolution, Sociality & Behaviour
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Research Programme
Date: 2019-02-25
Language: eng
Number of pages: 9
Belongs to series: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Biological Sciences
ISSN: 0962-8436
Abstract: Kin selection theory defines the conditions for which altruism or 'helping' can be favoured by natural selection. Tests of this theory in cooperatively breeding animals have focused on the short-term benefits to the recipients of help, such as improved growth or survival to adulthood. However, research on early-life effects suggests that there may be more durable, lifelong fitness impacts to the recipients of help, which in theory should strengthen selection for helping. Here, we show in cooperatively breeding banded mongooses (Mungos mungo) that care received in the first 3 months of life has lifelong fitness benefits for both male and female recipients. In this species, adult helpers called 'escorts' form exclusive one-to-one caring relationships with specific pups (not their own offspring), allowing us to isolate the effects of being escorted on later reproduction and survival. Pups that were more closely escorted were heavier at sexual maturity, which was associated with higher lifetime reproductive success for both sexes. Moreover, for female offspring, lifetime reproductive success increased with the level of escorting received per se, over and above any effect on body mass. Our results suggest that early-life social care has durable benefits to offspring of both sexes in this species. Given the well-established developmental effects of early-life care in laboratory animals and humans, we suggest that similar effects are likely to be widespread in social animals more generally. We discuss some of the implications of durable fitness benefits for the evolution of intergenerational helping in cooperative animal societies, including humans. This article is part of the theme issue 'Developing differences: early-life effects and evolutionary medicine'.
Subject: early-life effects
cooperative breeding
inclusive fitness
lifetime reproductive success
selective disappearance
social evolution
1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Peer reviewed: Yes
Rights: cc_by
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion

Files in this item

Total number of downloads: Loading...

Files Size Format View
rstb.2018.0114.pdf 521.2Kb PDF View/Open

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show full item record