Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Costs and benefits of group foraging in cooperatively breeding meerkats
Author: Barnard, J. A.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2000
Availability of Full Text:
Full text unavailable from EThOS.
Please contact the current institution’s library for further details.
One common argument concerning the ultimate constraint on group size in non-cooperative social species is that there are costs of sociality due to foraging competition. However, in cooperatively breeding species, both adult survival and the reproductive success of breeders generally increase with group size, raising questions about what factors limit the maximum size of groups. In this thesis, I investigate whether the effects of increased group size on foraging success result in constraints which limit the size of groups in a cooperative mammal, the meerkat Suricata suricatta. I show that there is no evidence that group foraging results in competition for food resources, or constraints on the maximum group size. In fact, the rate of weight gain during foraging increases with group size, and thus indicates a direct benefit of group foraging. In addition, I describe the relationship between age-related changes in foraging abilities and the timing of dispersal. I demonstrate that there are age-related increases in food-searching skills and forging efficiency, and that increases in foraging efficiency result in greater rates of weight gain during foraging, and a decrease in the total time spent foraging. The maturation of foraging efficiency predicts the average minimum age of dispersal by males from their natal group, suggesting that the timing of dispersal may be constrained by the development of foraging skills.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available