Markus Zöettl (University of Cambridge) - Social Organisation of Damaraland Mole-Rats (Fukomys Damarensis)

4:00pm - 5:00pm / Tuesday 27th February 2018 / Venue: Lecture Theatre 1 Life Sciences Building
Type: Seminar / Category: Research / Series: BEEM Seminar
  • Suitable for: Staff/Students with an interest in Behaviour, Evolution, Ecology and Microbiology
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Previously it has been suggested that Naked and Damaraland mole-rats groups may be organised in permanent, distinct castes that differ in behaviour and physiology, suggesting that their social organisation resembles that of obligatorily eusocial insects. My research aims to understand the life-history and the variation of cooperative behaviour across individuals in Damaraland mole-rats, using capture mark and recapture data and behavioural data from laboratory colonies of Damaraland mole-rats. My research provides no evidence that non-reproductive individuals show fixed, divergent developmental pathways, or specialise in particular tasks or specific life-history trajectories. Variation in growth appears to be related to competition among group members and investment in cooperative behaviour is affected by energetic demands of certain tasks. My research suggests that variation in mole-rat behaviour may represent a state-dependent, age-related polyethism. Behavioural organisation of social mole-rat groups is similar to that of other singular cooperatively breeding vertebrates and similarities to obligatorily eusocial insects may have been overestimated.