Teams in animal societies

  • Anderson C
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We review the existence of teams in animal societies. Teams have previously been dismissed in all but a tiny minority of insect societies. "Team" is a term not generally used in studies of vertebrates. We propose a new rigorous definition of a team that may be applied to both vertebrate and invertebrate societies. We reconsider what it means to work as a team or group and suggest that there are many more teams in insect societies than previously thought. A team task requires different subtasks to be performed concurrently for successful completion. There is a division of labor within a team. Contrary to previous reviews of teams in social insects, we do not constrain teams to consist of members of different castes and argue that team members may be interchangeable. Consequently, we suggest that a team is simply the set of individuals that performs a team task. We contrast teams with groups and suggest that a group task requires the simultaneous performance and cooperation of two or more individuals for successful completion. In a group, there is no division of labor-each individual performs the same task. We also contrast vertebrate and invertebrate teams and find that vertebrate teams tend to be associated with hunting and are based on individual recognition. Invertebrate teams occur in societies characterized by a great deal of redundancy, and we predict that teams in insect societies are more likely to be found in large polymorphic ("complex") societies than in small monomorphic ("simple") societies.

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  • C. Anderson

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