Holarctic Marmots as a factor of Biodiversity.
Rumiantsev V.Yu;, Nikol'skii A.A. & Brandler O.V. eds.,
Abstracts, 3d Conference on Marmots (Cheboksary, Russia, 25-30 August 1997),
Moscow ABF 1997, 216p. : 128-129.


D.T. Blumstein, K.B. Armitage

Department of Systematics and Ecology, University of Kansas
Lawrence, USA

Whenever individuals live in stable social groups and not all individuals breed, group members may breed cooperatively. We identify cooperative breeding when: individuals delay dispersal beyond reproductive maturity, reproduction in mature individuals is suppressed, and when non-breeders provide alloparental care. While well-documented in a variety of birds and mammals, there is some controversy over whether, and to what degree, sciurid rodents breed cooperatively. We note that marmots provide an optimal taxon in which to study the evolution of cooperative breeding.Marmot species fit none, some, or all of the criteria of cooperative breeding. Most interestingly, delayed dispersal and alloparental care may be de-coupled in marmots making them an excellent taxon for additional study. Environmental harshness increases maturation time and delays dispersal. The opportunity to gain direct fitness may be associated with gaining indirect fitness by alloparental behavior.

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