Relatedness decreases and reciprocity increases cooperation in Norway rats

Manon Karin Schweinfurth, Michael Taborsky

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19 Citations (Scopus)
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Kin selection and reciprocity are two mechanisms underlying the evolution of cooperation, but the relative importance of kinship and reciprocity for decisions to cooperate are yet unclear for most cases of cooperation. Here, we experimentally tested the relative importance of relatedness and received cooperation for decisions to help a conspecific in wild-type Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus). Test rats provided more food to non-kin than to siblings, and they generally donated more food to previously helpful social partners than to those that had refused help. The rats thus applied reciprocal cooperation rules irrespective of relatedness, highlighting the importance of reciprocal help for cooperative interactions among both related and unrelated conspecifics.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20180035
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1874
Early online date7 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2018


  • Reciprocity
  • Kin selection
  • Norway rats
  • Cooperation
  • Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma


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