Density dependence in group dynamics of a highly social mongoose, Suricata suricatta

  • Bateman A
  • Ozgul A
  • Coulson T
 et al. 
  • 183

    Readers

    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 17

    Citations

    Citations of this article.

Abstract

1. For social species, the link between individual behaviour and population dynamics is mediated by group-level demography. 2. Populations of obligate cooperative breeders are structured into social groups, which may be subject to inverse density dependence (Allee effects) that result from a dependence on conspecific helpers, but evidence for population-wide Allee effects is rare. 3. We use field data from a long-term study of cooperative meerkats (Suricata suricatta; Schreber, 1776) - a species for which local Allee effects are not reflected in population-level dynamics - to empirically model interannual group dynamics. 4. Using phenomenological population models, modified to incorporate environmental conditions and potential Allee effects, we first investigate overall patterns of group dynamics and find support only for conventional density dependence that increases after years of low rainfall. 5. To explain the observed patterns, we examine specific demographic rates and assess their contributions to overall group dynamics. Although per-capita meerkat mortality is subject to a component Allee effect, it contributes relatively little to observed variation in group dynamics, and other (conventionally density dependent) demographic rates - especially emigration - govern group dynamics. 6. Our findings highlight the need to consider demographic processes and density dependence in subpopulations before drawing conclusions about how behaviour affects population processes in socially complex systems.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Beverton-Holt model
  • Demographic decomposition
  • Environmental effects
  • Ricker model

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document

Authors

  • Andrew W. Bateman

  • Arpat Ozgul

  • Tim Coulson

  • Tim H. Clutton-Brock

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free