1. Ecology
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Sex-specific effects of cooperative breeding and colonial nesting on prosociality in corvids

  1. Lisa Horn  Is a corresponding author
  2. Thomas Bugnyar
  3. Michael Griesser
  4. Marietta Hengl
  5. Ei-Ichi Izawa
  6. Tim Oortwijn
  7. Christiane Rössler
  8. Clara Scheer
  9. Martina Schiestl
  10. Masaki Suyama
  11. Alex H Taylor
  12. Lisa-Claire Vanhooland
  13. Auguste M P von Bayern
  14. Yvonne Zürcher
  15. Jorg JM Massen
  1. University of Vienna, Austria
  2. University of Zurich, Switzerland
  3. Keio University, Japan
  4. Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Germany
  5. Hokkaido University, Japan
  6. University of Auckland, New Zealand
  7. Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Germany
  8. Zurich University, Switzerland
  9. Utrecht University, Netherlands
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2020;9:e58139 doi: 10.7554/eLife.58139

Abstract

The investigation of prosocial behavior is of particular interest from an evolutionary perspective. Comparisons of prosociality across non-human animal species have, however, so far largely focused on primates, and their interpretation is hampered by the diversity of paradigms and procedures used. Here we present the first systematic comparison of prosocial behavior across multiple species in a taxonomic group outside the primate order, namely the bird family Corvidae. We measured prosociality in 8 corvid species, which vary in the expression of cooperative breeding and colonial nesting. We show that cooperative breeding is positively associated with prosocial behavior across species. Also, colonial nesting is associated with a stronger propensity for prosocial behavior, but only in males. The combined results of our study strongly suggest that both cooperative breeding and colonial nesting, which may both rely on heightened social tolerance at the nest, are likely evolutionary pathways to prosocial behavior in corvids.

Data availability

The datasets analyzed in this study are available on Dryad.

The following data sets were generated

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Lisa Horn

    Department of Behavioral and Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
    For correspondence
    lisa.horn@univie.ac.at
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-9586-915X
  2. Thomas Bugnyar

    Department of Behavioral and Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Michael Griesser

    Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-2220-2637
  4. Marietta Hengl

    Department of Behavioral and Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Ei-Ichi Izawa

    Department of Psychology, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. Tim Oortwijn

    Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  7. Christiane Rössler

    Department of Behavioral and Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  8. Clara Scheer

    Department of Behavioral and Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  9. Martina Schiestl

    Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  10. Masaki Suyama

    Department of Behavioral Sciences, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  11. Alex H Taylor

    School of Psychology, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  12. Lisa-Claire Vanhooland

    Department of Behavioral and Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  13. Auguste M P von Bayern

    Research Group Comparative Cognition, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Seewiesen, Germany
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  14. Yvonne Zürcher

    Department of Anthropology, Zurich University, Zurich, Switzerland
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  15. Jorg JM Massen

    Animal Ecology Group, Department of Biology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Funding

Austrian Science Fund (P26806)

  • Jorg JM Massen

JST CREST (JPMJCR17A4)

  • Ei-Ichi Izawa

Keio University ICR Projects (MKJ1905)

  • Ei-Ichi Izawa

Royal Society of New Zealand (Rutherford Discovery Fellowship)

  • Alex H Taylor

Prime Minister's McDiarmid Emerging Scientist Prize

  • Alex H Taylor

University of Vienna (Marie Jahoda grant)

  • Lisa Horn

Austrian Science Fund (Y366-B17)

  • Thomas Bugnyar

Vienna Science and Technology Fund (CS11-008)

  • Thomas Bugnyar

ERA-Net BiodivERsA (31BD30_172465)

  • Michael Griesser

University of Vienna (Förderungsstipendium)

  • Marietta Hengl
  • Christiane Rössler

University of Vienna (Uni:Docs doctoral fellowship)

  • Lisa-Claire Vanhooland

JSPS KAKENHI (17H02653)

  • Ei-Ichi Izawa

JSPS KAKENHI (16H06324)

  • Ei-Ichi Izawa

JSPS KAKENHI (15J02148)

  • Masaki Suyama

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Animal experimentation: The study followed the Guidelines for the Use of Animals (81), in accordance with national legislations. All animal care and data collection protocols were reviewed and approved by the ethical boards of the respective research institutions (see SI, Table S7).

Reviewing Editor

  1. Ammie K Kalan, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany

Publication history

  1. Received: April 22, 2020
  2. Accepted: October 18, 2020
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: October 20, 2020 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: November 3, 2020 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2020, Horn et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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