Dom Cram, Ph.D., Postdoctoral research associate





Conflict and cooperation in meerkat societies: reproduction and ageing


The meerkat social life is one of extremes. While living in close groups confers certain benefits, competition can also be intensified. Cooperation and conflict are important themes in meerkat societies, and I investigate both to address two main topics:

  • How do meerkats’ social lives shape their patterns of ageing? Can cooperation slow down the ageing process, or does intense conflict lead to stress and accelerated senescence? I am addressing these questions by investigating multiple markers of cellular ageing (oxidative stress, antioxidant protection and telomere dynamics).
  • How do cooperation and conflict drive variation in behavior and reproduction in subordinate female meerkats?

Most female meerkats never become dominant, so there is intense selection for subordinates to maximize their breeding success. Are subordinates able to adjust the timing and development of their pregnancies, to maximize pup survival? What strategies can a female employ in the struggle to become dominant? For further information see:

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