Nepotistic cooperation in non-human primate groups

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

71 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Darwin was struck by the many similarities between humans and other primates and believed that these similarities were the product of common ancestry. He would be even more impressed by the similarities if he had known what we have learned about primates over the last 50 years. Genetic kinship has emerged as the primary organizing force in the evolution of primate social organization and the patterning of social behaviour in non-human primate groups. There are pronounced nepotistic biases across the primate order, from tiny grey mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus) that forage alone at night but cluster with relatives to sleep during the day, to cooperatively breeding marmosets that rely on closely related helpers to rear their young, rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatto) females who acquire their mother's rank and form strict matrilineal dominance hierarchies, male howler monkeys that help their sons maintain access to groups of females and male chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) that form lasting relationships with their brothers. As more evidence of nepotism has accumulated, important questions about the evolutionary processes underlying these kin biases have been raised. Although kin selection predicts that altruism will be biased in favour of relatives, it is difficult to assess whether primates actually conform to predictions derived from Hamilton's rule: br > c. In addition, other mechanisms, including contingent reciprocity and mutualism, could contribute to the nepotistic biases observed in non-human primate groups. There are good reasons to suspect that these processes may complement the effects of kin selection and amplify the extent of nepotistic biases in behaviour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3243-3254
Number of pages12
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume364
Issue number1533
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 12 2009
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

primate
Primates
Cheirogaleidae
Microcebus
kin selection
Pan troglodytes
Alouatta
nepotism
Social Dominance
Altruism
Callithrix
altruism
sleep
Symbiosis
mutualism
reciprocity
Social Behavior
kinship
Callitrichidae
social behavior

Keywords

  • Altruism
  • Cooperation
  • Kin recognition
  • Kin selection
  • Primate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

Cite this

Nepotistic cooperation in non-human primate groups. / Silk, Joan.

In: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Vol. 364, No. 1533, 12.11.2009, p. 3243-3254.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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