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摘要 : 本期的Nature封面为狐獴。

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 本期的Nature封面为狐獴。狐獴是小型群居肉食性动物,在每一群内一个居支配地位的繁殖对(breeding pair)垄断繁殖活动,而它们的后代则由所有群体成员来抚养。 争夺繁殖角色的竞争是激烈的,个体在群体中的地位取决于其大小和重量。Elise Huchard等人研究了野生喀拉哈里狐獴的一个天然种群,发现它们在不断估计彼此的大小,以确保年轻个体不会超过它们的大小,因而也不会超过它们的群体地位。一旦一只狐獴成为群体中的老大,它就会猛长一阵,以确保它仍然比其最大的对手更大、更重。作者提出,对竞争风险的类似反应可能也会出现在如家畜和灵长类等其他群居哺乳动物中。封面: Nathan Thavarajah.


Competitive growth in a cooperative mammal


In many animal societies wher hierarchies govern access to reproduction, the social rank of individuals is related to their age and weight and slow-growing animals may lose their place in breeding queues to younger ‘challengers’ that grow faster. The threat of being displaced might be expected to favour the evolution of competitive growth strategies, wher individuals increase their own rate of growth in response to increases in the growth of potential rivals. Although growth rates have been shown to vary in relation to changes in the social environment in several vertebrates including fish and mammals, it is not yet known whether individuals increase their growth rates in response to increases in the growth of particular reproductive rivals. Here we show that, in wild Kalahari meerkats (Suricata suricatta), subordinates of both sexes respond to experimentally induced increases in the growth of same-sex rivals by raising their own growth rate and food intake. In addition, when individuals acquire dominant status, they show a secondary period of accelerated growth whose magnitude increases if the difference between their own weight and that of the heaviest subordinate of the same sex in their group is small. Our results show that individuals adjust their growth to the size of their closest competitor and raise the possibility that similar plastic responses to the risk of competition may occur in other social mammals, including domestic animals and primates.

来源: Nature 浏览次数:0


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