Full Project Title: 
Evolutionary roots of social bonds in female mammals: understanding female social networks in eastern grey kangaroos and giraffes
Project Summary: 

Friendships and social networks are known to affect the health and survival of people, but it is not known why mammals originally evolved the propensity to form friendships. Species that exhibit fission-fusion sociality, in which individuals continuously come and go from temporary groups, are ideal for studying the determinants of close social bonds because individuals are able to choose who to associate with. The species with fission-fusion sociality normally studied (e.g., primates, dolphins, elephants, humans), exhibit complex patterns of cooperation, which likely then select for strong social bonds. This raises the question of what the original selective benefits of close female bonds may have been for mammals. In this project we are studying the determinants of friendships among females and variation in individuals' levels of sociality in eastern grey kangaroos and giraffes, which are both species that do not exhibit any obvious forms of cooperation. We are studying approximately 200 individually known wild female kangaroos at Sundown National Park in Queensland and about 250 female giraffe living in Etosha National Park in Namibia. We are quantifying the social networks of these populations and individuals’ association patterns, and testing the extent to which spatial overlap and genetic relatedness explain association patterns. We will then test for reproductive and survival benefits of social bonds. The understanding of how friendships have evolved in mammals with relatively simple social systems will inform our understanding of differences among female mammals and people in levels of sociality, strengths of friendships and health benefits accrued.

Funding Sources: 

This project is funded through an ARC Discovery Grant (DP120102693Evolutionary roots of social bonds in female mammals).

  • Project Collaborators

    A/Prof Anne Goldizena.goldizen@uq.edu.au

    School of Biological Sciences
    The University of Queensland

     Dr Jennifer Seddonj.seddon1@uq.edu.au

    School of Veterinary Sciences
    The University of Queensland

    Dr Simon Blombergs.blomberg1@uq.edu.au

    School of Biological Sciences
    The University of Queensland

    Prof Bryan Shorrocksbs529@york.ac.uk

    Environment Department
    University of York

  • Postgraduate Students
  • Publications

    Carter, KC; Seddon, JM; Frère, CH; Carter, JK; Goldizen, AW (2013). Fission-fusion dynamics in wild giraffes may be driven by kinship, spatial overlap and individual social preferences. Anim. Behav. 85:385-394.

    Favreau, F-R; Goldizen, AW; Pays, O (2010) Interactions among social monitoring, anti-predator vigilance and group size in eastern grey kangaroos.  Proc. R. Soc. B 277: 2089-2095.

    Carter, AJ; Pays, O; Goldizen, AW (2009) Individual variation in the relationship between vigilance and group size in eastern grey kangaroos.  Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 64: 237-245.

    Carter, AJ; Macdonald, SL; Thomson, V; Goldizen, AW (2009) Structured association patterns and their energetic benefits in female eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus).  Anim. Behav. 77:839-846.