Strategic adjustment of begging effort by banded mongoose pups

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Variation in the intensity of conspicuous displays raises three basic questions: (i) the relationship between internal state and display intensity, (ii) the relationship between display intensity and receiver response, and (iii) the effect of variation in receiver responsiveness on signaller behaviour. Here, I investigate the interaction between pups and helpers in the communally breeding banded mongoose (Mungos mungo), where each pup forms an exclusive relationship with a single adult helper (termed its 'escort'). By experimentally manipulating pup need, I demonstrate that changes in begging rate correspond to changes in short-term need. The data then suggest that escorts in good condition may be more responsive to increased begging and that pups associating with them increase their begging more than do pups paired with escorts in poor condition. Escorts also appear more responsive to increased begging by female pups, and female pups increase their begging more than do male pups. These results suggest that banded mongoose pups may strategically adjust their investment in begging in relation to variation in the expected pay-off. I argue that such adjustment is likely to be a general phenomenon: wherever there is variation in responsiveness to signals, signallers will be selected to identify different categories of receiver and adjust their signals in order to maximize the pay-offs. Therefore, differences in signal intensity may be as much a product of context as an indication of variation in individual phenotypic or genotypic state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1313-1319
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences
Issue number1640
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2008

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • banded mongoose
  • Mungos mungo
  • parent–offspring-conflict
  • honest signalling
  • cooperative care
  • begging


Dive into the research topics of 'Strategic adjustment of begging effort by banded mongoose pups'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this