Measuring cooperation in the North American river otter, Lontra canadensis
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The development of the cognitive complexity involved in cooperation between animals has become of increased interest to evolutionary biologists and comparative psychologists alike (Plotnik et al., 2011; Drea & Carter, 2009). The basic definition of cooperation, coined by Boesch & Boesch (1989), is the behavior of two or more individuals acting together to achieve a common goal. There are four main theories about what criteria led to the evolution of cooperation, and they are based on the following conditions: big brains, complex social structures, kinship, and cooperative foraging. Cooperation is being tested across a growing spectrum of species, generating evidence for all four theories. The focus of this paper will be on the ability of another social carnivore, the N. American river otter (Lontra canadensis), to cooperate during a food acquisition task. There was no evidence that the otters could work together during this novel cooperative task, potentially due to a lack of capacity to solve it, or due to dominance and/or a lack of motivation.
Franklin and Marshall College Archives, Undergraduate Honors Thesis 2017
- F&M Theses Collection