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Anim Behav. 2012 Jan;83(1):171-177.

Reciprocity of agonistic support in ravens.

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1
Department of Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna, Austria.

Abstract

Cooperative behaviour through reciprocation or interchange of valuable services in primates has received considerable attention, especially regarding the timeframe of reciprocation and its ensuing cognitive implications. Much less, however, is known about reciprocity in other animals, particularly birds. We investigated patterns of agonistic support (defined as a third party intervening in an ongoing conflict to attack one of the conflict participants, thus supporting the other) in a group of 13 captive ravens, Corvus corax. We found support for long-term, but not short-term, reciprocation of agonistic support. Ravens were more likely to support individuals who preened them, kin and dominant group members. These results suggest that ravens do not reciprocate on a calculated tit-for-tat basis, but aid individuals from whom reciprocated support would be most useful and those with whom they share a good relationship. Additionally, dyadic levels of agonistic support and consolation (postconflict affiliation from a bystander to the victim) correlated strongly with each other, but we found no evidence to suggest that receiving agonistic support influences the victim's likelihood of receiving support (consolation) after the conflict ends. Our findings are consistent with an emotionally mediated form of reciprocity in ravens and provide additional support for convergent cognitive evolution in birds and mammals.

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