Eviction and dispersal in co-operatively breeding banded mongooses (Mungos mungo)


All correspondence to current address: M. A. Cant, Section of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-2702, U.S.A.


The mode by which individuals disperse, and the cost of dispersal, are of great importance in attempts to understand variation in reproductive skew in animal societies. In this paper we report detailed information on dispersal and pack formation in banded mongooses Mungos mungo. Six pack fission events were recorded among 11 packs over 22 months. Pack fission occurred under two distinct circumstances. First, groups of individuals were evicted from their natal group as a result of intense aggression from other group members. A small fraction of group members was responsible for most of the aggression. Both sexes helped to attack and evict individuals from the group, and both males and females were driven out of their natal groups en masse. The second mode of pack fission occurred when groups of same-sex individuals left their natal group voluntarily to join dispersing individuals of the opposite sex, thereby forming new packs. Dispersing groups were more frequently involved in fights with rival packs of mongooses compared to established groups, and in one instance these fights seemed to be responsible for severe injury and increased mortality among members of a dispersing group. The observations of eviction provide one line of evidence that the presence of subordinates is sometimes detrimental to dominants, contrary to the assumptions of concession models of reproductive skew.