Research performed at the University of Bern indicates that animals beyond Homo sapiens consider the value of previously received help when deciding whether to help a social partner.
Reciprocal exchange of services and commodities among conspecifics is common, and has been observed for instance in primates, vampire bats and rats. For humans, a predominant factor influencing the motivation to reciprocate help is the individual’s perceived benefit resulting from the value of received help.
Hitherto, it was unclear whether outside of humans the value of a received reward may affect the decision to cooperate reciprocally, independently of other parameters such as the partner’s identity or it’s furnished effort.
Using Norway rats, Vassilissa Dolivo and Michael Taborsky, two researchers at the Institute of Ecology and Evolution from the University of Bern, have found that animals other than humans also reciprocate help according to the quality of help they received.
The study appeared in the journal «Biology Letters». According to Vassilissa Dolivo, Norway rats were chosen because of their ability to perform experimental tasks under laboratory conditions, as of their high degree of sociality in the wild and their known ability to cooperate on the basis of the decision rule of direct reciprocity – that is «helping someone who has helped you before».
Banana providers preferred
Twenty female wild-type Norway rats were tested in a variant of the prisoner’s dilemma paradigm. Each test rat received food items differing in value and attractiveness from two different social partners that provided either a preferred, «high quality» reward – pieces of banana – or a less relished, «low quality» reward – pieces of carrot. The quality of the offered food was the only variable parameter for test rats to distinguish between different cooperators.
Subsequently, the test rats could decide to provide their previous banana or carrot providers with oat flakes. «The test rats showed a clear preference to pay back help to the partner that had provided them with the preferred food», says Michael Taborsky. «They helped previous banana providers much quicker than previous carrot providers.»
According to the authors, these results demonstrate that animals can consider the value of previously received help when deciding whether to help a social partner. This may have important implications for our understanding of reciprocal cooperation in nature, for which, as Vassilissa Dolivo points out, «evidence is increasing throughout vertebrates, from fishes to primates».
Nathalie Matter | Universität Bern
Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University
Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
28.03.2017 | Life Sciences
28.03.2017 | Information Technology
28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy