Extended safe havens and between-group dispersal of helpers in a cooperatively breeding cichlid Ralph Bergmüller 1) , Dik Heg , Katharina Peer & Michael Taborsky (Department of Behavioural Ecology, Zoological Institute, University of Bern, CH 3032 Hinterkapellen, Switzerland) (Accepted: 25 July 2005) Summary In cooperative breeders, between-group dispersal of helpers is expected to occur if it increases their fitness. Genetic data suggest that helpers in the cooperatively breeding Lake Tanganyika cichlid Neolamprologus pulcher occasionally migrate into nearby groups where they again become helpers. We studied in the field how and why helpers migrate between groups by recording their ranging and social behaviours. We found that helpers spent 5.3% of their time visiting other groups, where they received similar low levels of aggression as within their home group. Large helpers visited other groups more often than small helpers and helpers visited other groups more frequently when the queue in their home group was large, suggesting that helpers with low chances to inherit the territory search for alternatives. Our data show that helpers may use other groups’ territories as a refuge, as helpers actively sought shelter within territories of neighbouring groups when we experimentally increased the perceived risk of staying
Behaviour – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2005
Keywords: TERRITORY QUALITY; NEOLAMPROLOGUS PULCHER/BRICHARDI; BETWEEN-GROUP DISPERSAL; CICHLIDAE; BIOLOGICAL MARKETS; COOPERATIVE BREEDING; SOCIAL NETWORK
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