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Curr Biol. 2014 Nov 17;24(22):2733-6. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.09.073. Epub 2014 Oct 30.

Ravens intervene in others' bonding attempts.

Author information

1
Department of Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna, Althanstrasse 14, 1090 Vienna, Austria. Electronic address: jorgmassen@gmail.com.
2
Department of Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna, Althanstrasse 14, 1090 Vienna, Austria; Konrad Lorenz - Research Station (KLF), Core Facility, University of Vienna, Fischerau 11, 4645 Grünau, Austria.
3
Konrad Lorenz - Research Station (KLF), Core Facility, University of Vienna, Fischerau 11, 4645 Grünau, Austria.

Abstract

The competition for power in a complex social world is hypothesized to be a driving force in the evolution of intelligence. More specifically, power may be obtained not only by brute force but also by social strategies resembling human politics. Most empirical evidence comes from primate studies that report unprovoked aggression by dominants to maintain power by spreading fear and third-party interventions in conflicts. Coalitionary support has also been described in other animals and is often linked to social bonding. As coalitions can lead to a gain in power and fitness benefits, individuals may try to prevent coalitionary support or indirectly prevent others from forming social bonds that might lead to coalitions. Although there is some empirical evidence that coalitionary support can be manipulated, little is known about the indirect strategy. We show here that wild ravens (Corvus corax) regularly intervene in affiliative interactions of others even though such interventions are potentially risky and without immediate benefits. Moreover, the identities of both interveners and intervened pairs are not randomly distributed. Ravens with existing ties initiate most interventions, and ravens that are creating new ties are most likely to be the targets of interventions. These patterns are consistent with the idea that interventions function to prevent others from forming alliances and consequently becoming future competitors. We thus show previously undescribed social maneuvers in the struggle for power. These maneuvers are likely to be of importance in other social species as well.

PMID:
25455033
PMCID:
PMC4245706
DOI:
10.1016/j.cub.2014.09.073
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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