Care for kin: Within-group relatedness and allomaternal care are positively correlated and conserved throughout the mammalian phylogeny

Michael Briga*, Ido Pen, Jonathan Wright

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

37 Citaten (Scopus)


With an increasing amount of data becoming available, comparative analyses have called attention to the associations between cooperative breeding, monogamy and relatedness. We focus here upon the association between allomaternal care and relatedness among females within a social unit. Previous studies found a positive association, but such results date back to before molecular tools were in common use, they considered only a few mammalian orders, neglected phylogenetic clustering and/or did not correct for group sizes. Here, we use molecular data on relatedness from 44 species of mammals to investigate the phylogenetic clustering of, and the association between, allomaternal care and relatedness among females within a social unit. We find (i) a strong phylogenetic signal for allomaternal care and a moderate one for relatedness and group size, and (ii) a positive association between relatedness and allomaternal care, even when correcting for the smaller than average group sizes in species with allomaternal care. We also find that, in species without allomaternal care, adult females often live with unrelated females even when groups are small. We discuss these results in the light of recent evidence for the role of kin selection and the monogamy hypothesis in cooperative breeding.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)533-536
Aantal pagina's4
TijdschriftBiology Letters
Nummer van het tijdschrift4
StatusPublished - 23-aug-2012

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