Strong social bonds form between individuals in many group-living species, and these relationships can have important fitness benefits. When responding to vocalizations produced by groupmates, receivers are expected to adjust their behaviour depending on the nature of the bond they share with the signaller. Here we investigate whether the strength of the signaller–receiver social bond affects response to calls that attract others to help mob a predator. Using field-based playback experiments on a habituated population of wild dwarf mongooses (Helogale parvula), we first demonstrate that a particular vocalization given on detecting predatory snakes does act as a recruitment call; receivers were more likely to look, approach and engage in mobbing behaviour than in response to control close calls. We then show that individuals respond more strongly to these recruitment calls if they are from groupmates with whom they are more strongly bonded (those with whom they preferentially groom and forage). Our study, therefore, provides novel evidence about the anti-predator benefits of close bonds within social groups.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3579833.
- Received August 6, 2016.
- Accepted November 8, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.