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Meta-analysis and animal social behaviour

Abstract

Meta-analytical techniques are increasingly used in behavioural ecology and evolutionary biology. Here we review the studies that have used meta-analysis to address debated issues in animal social behaviour. This literature can be grouped into six research themes: socio-ecology, communication, cooperation, dominance, sexual behaviour, and parental care. We discuss the major findings of these studies and the benefits that meta-analytical techniques brought to the study of animal social behaviour. For example, meta-analytical techniques have proved crucial in the analysis of the factors affecting grooming reciprocity in primates, in testing the role of kin selection in the evolution of cooperative breeding, and in assessing the fitness benefits of dominance in a range of animal species. Less than 40 papers have used meta-analysis to address topics in animal social behaviour, suggesting that the potential of meta-analysis has not yet been fully exploited.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Shinichi Nakagawa and Robert Poulin for inviting us to contribute to this special issue.

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Correspondence to Gabriele Schino.

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Majolo, B., Aureli, F. & Schino, G. Meta-analysis and animal social behaviour. Evol Ecol 26, 1197–1211 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10682-012-9559-1

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Keywords

  • Cooperation
  • Dominance
  • Mating system
  • Meta-analysis
  • Social behaviour