Research Output

Pup escorting in the communal breeding banded mongoose: behavior, benefits and maintenance.

  In cooperatively breeding species, helpers typically provide food to offspring, and distribute food throughout the brood or litter. However, in the communal breeding banded mongoose (Mungos mungo), some group members escort individual pups during their period of dependence, and escorts consistently associate with the same pup, although not all pups have an escort. The aim of the present study was to determine whether group members actively care for pups, pups benefit from association, and escorts or pups maintain association. Adult banded mongooses provision, protect, carry, groom, and play with pups. Although escorts fed pups more than did nonescorts, escorted pups were neither larger nor in better condition than were nonescorted pups at the end of the association period. Nevertheless, escorted pups were more likely to survive the association period than were nonescorted pups, providing evidence that carers confer beneficial effects on their recipients. However, the recipients are unlikely to be the genetic offspring of the escort because it is the pup that maintains the pup-escort association, and escorts, rather than showing a preference for provisioning their paired pup, follow a "feed the closest pup" rule. Although carers gain indirect fitness benefits through increasing survival of related pups, the lack of kin discrimination means carers are unable to maximize their fitness by preferentially escorting their own offspring or the offspring of closer relatives.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    01 November 2004

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    Oxford Journals

  • DOI:


  • ISSN:



Gilchrist, J. (2004). Pup escorting in the communal breeding banded mongoose: behavior, benefits and maintenance. Behavioral ecology official journal of the International Society for Behavioral Ecology. 15, 952-960. doi:10.1093/beheco/arh071. ISSN 1465-7279



Cooperative breeding; Helpers; Kin recognition; Kin selection; Escort selection; Mungos mungo; Nepotism; Parental care; Provisioning; Benefits;

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