Myanmar Timber Elephant Project

New paper is out by Emily et al. in Phil. Trans. theme issue

July 16, 2019

Check the newest Elephant Project article by Emily C. Lynch et al.: Evolutionary significance of maternal kinship in a long-lived mammal.

This paper is one contribution of 17 to the theme issue ‘The evolution of female-biased kinship in humans anhd other mammals’, published in Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B.

Abstract. Preferential treatment of kin is widespread across social species and is considered a central prerequisite to the evolution of cooperation through kin selection. Though it is well known that, among most social mammals, females will remain within their natal group and often bias social behaviour towards female maternal kin, less is known about the fitness consequences of these relationships. We test the fitness benefits of living with maternal sisters, measured by age-specific female reproduction, using an unusually large database of a semi-captive Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) population.
This study system is particularly valuable to an exploration of reproductive trends in a long-lived mammal, because it includes life-history data that span multiple generations, enabling a study of the effects of kinship across a female’s lifespan. We find that living near a sister significantly increased the likelihood of annual reproduction among young female elephants, and this effect was strongest when living near a sister 0–5 years younger. Our results show that fitness benefits gained from relationships with kin are age-specific, establish the basis necessary for the formation and maintenance of close social relationships with female kin, and highlight the adaptive importance of matriliny in a long-lived mammal.
This article is part of a theme issue ‘The evolution of female-biased kinship in humans and other mammals’.