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The Evolution of Indiscriminate Altruism in a Cooperatively Breeding Mammal

Duncan, Chris; Gaynor, David; Clutton-Brock, Tim; Dyble, Mark; (2019) The Evolution of Indiscriminate Altruism in a Cooperatively Breeding Mammal. The American Naturalist , 193 (6) pp. 841-851. 10.1086/703113. Green open access

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Abstract

Kin selection theory suggests that altruistic behaviors can increase the fitness of altruists when recipients are genetic relatives. Although selection can favor the ability of organisms to preferentially cooperate with close kin, indiscriminately helping all group mates may yield comparable fitness returns if relatedness within groups is very high. Here, we show that meerkats (Suricata suricatta) are largely indiscriminate altruists who do not alter the amount of help provided to pups or group mates in response to their relatedness to them. We present a model showing that indiscriminate altruism may yield greater fitness payoffs than kin discrimination where most group members are close relatives and errors occur in the estimation of relatedness. The presence of errors in the estimation of relatedness provides a feasible explanation for associations between kin discriminative helping and group relatedness in eusocial and cooperatively breeding animals.

Type: Article
Title: The Evolution of Indiscriminate Altruism in a Cooperatively Breeding Mammal
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1086/703113
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1086/703113
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: altruism, cooperation, cooperative breeding, kin selection, meerkats
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10159126
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