Gabriella Gall, Ph.D. student




Group coordination during foraging in meerkats (Suricata suricatta)


Animals living in cohesive groups need to coordinate their activities, for example when making decisions about their foraging destination or timing of travel. Thereby individual group members need to compromise to overcome potential conflicts of interest. This decision making process can be facilitated by the use of vocal communication, with different signals potentially being used in different contexts. Meerkats are group-living mammals foraging as a cohesive group and use vocal signals to maintain spatial cohesion. As they live in stable social groups, with a high reproductive skew, we expect differences in leadership and signalling, i.e. between dominants and subordinates. Furthermore, the spatial pattern of the group as well as the association pattern between group members will have a strong influence on the decision making process. Therefore, in this study we investigate how meerkats use different vocalisations to coordinate group movement during foraging, focusing also on the spatial organization of the group.

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