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Are naked and common mole-rats eusocial and if so, why?
Eusociality in mammals is defined in the present paper by the following criteria: reproductive altruism (which involves reproductive division of labor and cooperative alloparental brood care), overlap of adult generations, and permanent (lifelong) philopatry. We argue that additional criteria such as the existence of castes, colony size, reproductive skew, and social cohesion are not pertinent to the definition of eusociality in mammals. According to our definition of mammalian eusociality, several rodent species of the African family Bathyergidae can be considered eusocial, including the naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber), Damaraland mole-rat (Cryptomys damarensis), and several additional, if not all, species in the genus Cryptomys, Furthermore, some species of social voles (like Microtus ochrogaster) may also fulfill criteria of mammalian eusociality. Understanding the evolution of eusociality in mole-rats requires answers to two primary questions: (1) What are the preconditions for the development of their eusocial systems? (2) Why do offspring remain in the natal group rather than dispersing and reproducing? Eusociality in mammals is by definition a special case of monogamy (more specifically: monogyny one female breeding), involving prolonged pair bonding for more than one breeding period. We argue that eusociality in mole-rats evolved from a monogamous mating system where cooperative brood care was already established. A tendency for group living is considered to be
Springer; Springer
ISSN : 0340-5443 CODEN : BESOD6
Behavioral ecology and sociobiology (Print) A. 2000, vol. 47, n° 5, pp. 293-303 [bibl. : 1 p.3/4]
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