Abstracts (first author)
Is sexual selection involved in the maintenance of the cooperative mound-building in Mus spicilegus?
The mound-building mouse (Mus spicilegus) possesses a unique cooperative behaviour amongst mice. In the beginning of autumn, groups of several individuals construct large earthen mounds in which they overwinter. This building is partly explained by kin selection. However, the presence of some distant or unrelated individuals suggests that kin selection may not suffice to explain this cooperative behaviour. Some observations in animal species suggest that cooperative behaviour increases access to mates. Investigations into whether sexual selection is involved could therefore provide significant insight. Here, spontaneous cooperativeness, exhibited during mound-building in captivity, was first assessed in a sample of 30 male mice captured in the field in Bulgaria. Then, we tested whether male cooperativeness influences mate preference of 20 females captured in the same area. Females significantly preferred cooperative males over non-cooperative ones. This is the first empirical evidence for the influence of sexual selection on cooperative behaviour in another species than humans.