Social living mitigates the costs of a chronic illness in a cooperative carnivore

E. S. Almberg, P. C. Cross, A. P. Dobson, D. W. Smith, M. C. Metz, D. R. Stahler, P. J. Hudson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Infection risk is assumed to increase with social group size, and thus be a cost of group living. We assess infection risk and costs with respect to group size using data from an epidemic of sarcoptic mange (Sarcoptes scabiei) among grey wolves (Canis lupus). We demonstrate that group size does not predict infection risk and that individual costs of infection, in terms of reduced survival, can be entirely offset by having sufficient numbers of pack-mates. Infected individuals experience increased mortality hazards with increasing proportions of infected pack-mates, but healthy individuals remain unaffected. The social support of group hunting and territory defence are two possible mechanisms mediating infection costs. This is likely a common phenomenon among other social species and chronic infections, but difficult to detect in systems where infection status cannot be measured continuously over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)660-667
Number of pages8
JournalEcology Letters
Volume18
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

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carnivore
chronic diseases
carnivores
cooperatives
cost
infection
group size
Canis lupus
Sarcoptes scabiei
scabies
hunting
hazard
mortality

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Almberg, E. S., Cross, P. C., Dobson, A. P., Smith, D. W., Metz, M. C., Stahler, D. R., & Hudson, P. J. (2015). Social living mitigates the costs of a chronic illness in a cooperative carnivore. Ecology Letters, 18(7), 660-667. https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.12444
Almberg, E. S. ; Cross, P. C. ; Dobson, A. P. ; Smith, D. W. ; Metz, M. C. ; Stahler, D. R. ; Hudson, P. J. / Social living mitigates the costs of a chronic illness in a cooperative carnivore. In: Ecology Letters. 2015 ; Vol. 18, No. 7. pp. 660-667.
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Almberg, ES, Cross, PC, Dobson, AP, Smith, DW, Metz, MC, Stahler, DR & Hudson, PJ 2015, 'Social living mitigates the costs of a chronic illness in a cooperative carnivore', Ecology Letters, vol. 18, no. 7, pp. 660-667. https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.12444

Social living mitigates the costs of a chronic illness in a cooperative carnivore. / Almberg, E. S.; Cross, P. C.; Dobson, A. P.; Smith, D. W.; Metz, M. C.; Stahler, D. R.; Hudson, P. J.

In: Ecology Letters, Vol. 18, No. 7, 01.07.2015, p. 660-667.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Almberg ES, Cross PC, Dobson AP, Smith DW, Metz MC, Stahler DR et al. Social living mitigates the costs of a chronic illness in a cooperative carnivore. Ecology Letters. 2015 Jul 1;18(7):660-667. https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.12444