African Mole-Rats: Ecology and Eusociality

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African mole-rats are a unique taxon of subterranean rodents that range in sociality from solitary-dwelling species to two "eusocial" species, the Damaraland mole-rat and the naked mole-rat. The naked mole-rat is arguably the closest that a mammal comes to behaving like social insects such as bees and termites, with large colonies and a behavioral and reproductive division of labor. As a family, the Bathyergidae represent a model system with which to study the evolution and maintenance of highly social cooperative breeding strategies. In this book, Nigel Bennett and Chris Faulkes provide a synthesis of the current knowledge of bathyergid systematics, ecology, reproductive biology, behavior, and genetics. They explore the role of these factors in the evolution of sociality in the Bathyergidae in the context of both vertebrates and invertebrates. This volume will be an important new resource for anyone interested in the evolution of sociality, specifically in mole-rats.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Although the authors present solid scientific information complete with copious high quality tables and graphs, their writing style is such as to engage nonprofessionals as well as those doing research on mole-rats. Their book should be in libraries of colleges and universities, particularly those emphasizing ecology, vertebrate biology, evolution, and animal behavior." Choice

"African Mole-Rats is a must for research libraries and individuals intrigued with the ecology, evolution, and elaboration of social life." Quarterly Review of Biology

"This book is valuable to all of us interested in evolution of social behavior for its comprehensive references on the African mole-rats and it has the advantage over an edited volume of being clearly organized and having consistent style. African mole-rats, ecology and eusociality is an excellent review of the Bathyergidae and a well-crafted arguement in support of the AFDH." Ethology

The various species of subterranean rodents range in sociality from solitary dwellers to the closest mammals come to behaving like social insects such as bees and termites. Bennett (zoology and entomology, U. of Pretoria) and Faulkes (molecular biology, U. of London) take them as a model system with which to study the evolution and maintenance of highly social cooperative breeding strategies. They synthesize the current knowledge of bathyergid systematics, ecology, reproductive biology, behavior, and genetics and explore the role of those factors in the evolution of sociality in the context of both vertebrates and invertebrates. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521771993
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2013
  • Pages: 287
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface; Acknowledgements; 1. Introduction to the Bathyergidae; 2. The subterranean niche; 3. The food resource of African Mole-Rats; 4. Social organisation in African Mole-Rats; 5. Life history patterns and reproductive biology; 6. Social suppression of reproduction in African Mole-Rats; 7. The genetic structure of Mole-Rat populations; 8. The evolution of sociality on African Mole-Rats; References; Index.

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