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Comparative studies of two species of mole-rat are helping to clarify the ecological correlates of mammalian eusociality. Both species live in social groups composed of close kin, within which breeding is restricted to one female and one to three males. They inhabit xeric areas with dispersed, patchy food and unpredictable rainfall. During droughts, they(More)
Extensive field and laboratory studies show that Damaraland mole-rats, like naked mole-rats, have an extreme form of vertebrate sociality. Colonies usually contain 2 reproductives and up to 39 non-breeding siblings, 90% of whom live a socially-induced lifetime of sterility; they remain in the natal colony, forage for food, defend the colony and care for(More)
In many animal societies, dominant individuals monopolize reproduction, but the tactics they employ to achieve this are poorly understood. One possibility is that aggressive dominants render their subordinates infertile by inducing chronic physiological "stress." However, this hypothesis has been discarded largely for cooperatively breeding species, where(More)
Adaptive theory predicts that mothers would be advantaged by adjusting the sex ratio of their offspring in relation to their offspring's future reproductive success. Studies investigating sex ratio variation in mammals, including humans, have obtained notoriously inconsistent results, except when maternal condition is measured around conception. Several(More)
The Damaraland mole-rat Cryptomys damarensis exhibits an extreme reproductive division of labour. Reproduction in the colony is restricted to a single breeding pair, resulting from a two-fold control: (i) a reduced pituitary synthesis and/or secretion of luteinizing hormone leading to a block to ovulation in non-reproductive females; and (ii) a strong(More)
Colonies of co-operatively breeding African mole-rats have traditionally been thought to be composed of a single breeding female, one or two breeding males, and their offspring. In the naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber), the occurrence of facultative inbreeding means incest avoidance cannot prevent reproduction in subordinate group members, and(More)
After the discovery of eusociality in the naked mole-rat, it was proposed that inbreeding and high colony relatedness in this species were the major underlying factors driving cooperative breeding in African molerats. By contrast, field and laboratory studies of the eusocial Damaraland mole-rat (Cryptomys damarensis) have raised the possibility that this(More)
We investigated some of the ecological determinants of sociality in the Damaraland mole-rat, including the spatial distribution and biomass of resources (geophytes) available to foraging Damaraland mole-rats in partly vegetated sand dunes in the Kalahari and in grasslands near Dordabis, Namibia, and the foraging behaviour and residency characteristics of(More)
Pituitary function in reproductive and nonreproductive colony members of Damaraland mole-rats, Cryptomys damarensis, was investigated by measuring the LH responses to single doses of 2 micrograms exogenous GnRH and physiological saline in 29 females and 37 males (31 of these animals from two entire colonies). In females, basal LH concentrations were(More)
In animal social groups, socially subordinate individuals frequently show low reproductive success or completely fail to breed. This suppression of subordinate reproduction is currently typically attributed to control by dominant individuals. However, subordinates in cooperative groups often lack access to unrelated mates, and an alternative possibility is(More)