The relative roles of mating system and phylogeny during the evolution of group-living in hystricognath rodents.

Raúl Sobrero1, Oscar  Inostroza-Michael2, Cristián E. Hernández2, Luis A. Ebensperger3

1Laboratorio de Ecología de Enfermedades, ICIVET Litoral, UNL/CONICET, Esperanza, Argentina, 2Departamento de Zoología, Universidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile, 3Departamento de Ecología, P. Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile

The evolution of group living in animals has been generally linked to ecological and phylogenetic drivers or constraints. In contrast, the effect of other components of social systems such as the dominant mating system remain debatable. A recent study that included African and New World Hystricognath rodents supported that group living was ancestral and that it was gained and lost repeatedly. Subsequent loss of group living occurred in ancestors of species using habitats with high vegetative cover, a finding supporting a connection between group living and predation risk. We expanded these findings to determine the role of the mating system. Specifically, we determined (a) how group living was associated to monogamous ancestors, and (b) whether other mating systems (polygyandry, polygyny) evolved from monogamous ancestors. Besides, we examined how these evolutionary changes in mating system were related to the occurrence of coloniality, an additional aspect of social systems in some species.


Dr. Sobrero combines ecological and evolutionary perspectives, integrative behavioral, brain anatomy, ecological and phylogenetic studies on wild caviomorph rodents to understand the causes and consequences of animal´s responses to physical and social conditions.

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