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Kin Discrimination in a Macropod Marsupial

Authors

  • Daniel T. Blumstein,

    1. Department of Organismic Biology, Ecology, and Evolution, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA;
    2. The Cooperative Research Centre for Conservation and Management of Marsupials, Macquarie University, Sydney;
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  • Jodie G. Ardron,

    1. The Cooperative Research Centre for Conservation and Management of Marsupials, Macquarie University, Sydney;
    2. Animal Behaviour Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
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  • Christopher S. Evans

    1. Animal Behaviour Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
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Daniel T. Blumstein, Department of Organismic Biology, Ecology and Evolution, 621 Charles E. Young Drive South, Universityof California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1606, USA. E-mail: marmots@ucla.edu

Abstract

Differential treatment of kin is ubiquitous in social animals. Parents often behave preferentially towards their dependent offspring. Species in several taxa also bias behaviour towards non-descendent kin. This latter phenomenon has not been demonstrated in marsupials, which are reportedly less social than eutherian mammals. We report the first evidence of non-parental kin-biased behaviour in a macropodid marsupial. Experimental pairing of individuals based on kinship reliably altered the rate of aggression between individuals in pairs of female tammar wallabies (Macropus eugenii). This effect is probably attributable to relatedness rather than to familiarity. Marsupial sociality may be substantially more complex than is currently recognized.

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