Alessandra Schnider from Hólar University will present recent advances on the big question of the evolution of cooperation.
On Tuesday, December 10.
Askja, room 129.
Currently there is an increasing realization that direct fitness benefits are important to explain the evolutionary origins and maintenance of cooperation. Yet to properly assess the importance of such direct benefits, one nevertheless needs to quantify the extent to which genetic relatedness shapes social interactions among individuals. Moreover, although relatedness between two individuals is fixed, environmental conditions are not. Very few previous studies have looked at the modulating effect that the socio-ecological environment may have on the importance of kinship in explaining socio-positive behaviors. In this study, I investigate the effect genetic relatedness has on association and grooming behaviors among 65 female vervet monkeysfrom 3 neighboring groups in their natural environment in South Africa. Females in this species are the philopatric sex, in which socio-positive behaviors have been linked to fitness benefits. I explicitly looked at how food availability may affect the role of kinship in their social interactions. Results showed that differences in relatedness affected patterns of association and grooming among females. Furthermore, great food abundance decreased the intensity of the effect relatedness had on socio-positive behaviors. In conclusion, kin selection plays a major role in social interactions among female vervet monkeys and this effect is further impacted by food availability.
Grooming Vervet monkeys. Photo from Alessandra herself.