Photo by Kay E. HolekampYou might be wondering what the photo above (of two adult female hyenas greeting each other) is doing on a blog about marmots. Please let me explain...
In my doctoral research, with Dr. Kay Holekamp at Michigan State University, I studied spotted hyenas. Our new paper on the subject is now in press at Animal Behaviour and will be officially published in February.
This research was just covered by reporter Victoria Gill at BBC News Earth in her story entitled, "Hyenas 'greet friends' to ask for their help". Check out this news story, and other news coverage below:
BBC News Story
Daily Nation Story,
"The female hyena calls the shots"
MSU Research News
Nigerian Best Forum
The original paper article, "Greetings promote cooperation and reinforce social bonds among spotted hyaenas" is in press at Animal Behaviour (doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2010.11.007)
Visit my website to learn more about studies on cooperation and to see videos of hyenas greeting!
Greeting confirm social bonds among "friends", especially among genetic relatives, before hyenas engage in risky cooperative behaviors such as attacking lions (see below).
As part of "Team Marmot", I am now investigating how greetings structure affiliation networks among yellow-bellied marmots. Although marmot greetings take-on quite a different physical form, I am asking how greetings function to structure marmot social networks.
Tina Wey and others from our lab recently showed that marmots, like spotted hyenas, tend to greet their kin in affiliation networks more often than they greet non-kin. My work on maternal effects will extend this finding. It will be interesting to learn whether convergent selection pressures also favor greetings among genetic relatives in marmots.