Reciprocal signaling in honeyguide-human mutualism.

Bibliographic Collection: 
APE Field Course
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Spottiswoode, Claire N; Begg, Keith S; Begg, Colleen M
Year of Publication: 2016
Journal: Science
Volume: 353
Issue: 6297
Pagination: 387-9
Date Published: 2016 07 22
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1095-9203
Keywords: Animals, Bees, Birds, Cooperative Behavior, Honey, Human Activities, Humans, Mozambique, Symbiosis, Vocalization, Animal

Greater honeyguides (Indicator indicator) lead human honey-hunters to wild bees' nests, in a rare example of a mutualistic foraging partnership between humans and free-living wild animals. We show experimentally that a specialized vocal sound made by Mozambican honey-hunters seeking bees' nests elicits elevated cooperative behavior from honeyguides. The production of this sound increased the probability of being guided by a honeyguide from about 33 to 66% and the overall probability of thus finding a bees' nest from 17 to 54%, as compared with other animal or human sounds of similar amplitude. These results provide experimental evidence that a wild animal in a natural setting responds adaptively to a human signal of cooperation.

DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf4885
Alternate Journal: Science