Friendships in the Dwarf Mongoose


Funding Successful. This project reached its goal before February 21, 2015.

  • £4,350.00

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Why is this research important?

Investigating how animals benefit from friendships will advance our knowledge of social behaviour, group living and cooperation, which are key human traits. Supporting this work will also help secure the future of the Dwarf Mongoose Project: such long-term monitoring programmes are vital for developing our understanding of the natural world.

What you are trying to discover through your research?

Friends provide numerous short- and long-term benefits in humans. While individuals of many other social species also form strong bonds (‘friendships’) with particular group members, we know very little about the benefits that these provide on a day-to-day basis. Our research aims to discover what individuals gain from having friends and associating closely with them, in terms of foraging behaviour (e.g. shared food or greater tolerance), the receipt of help (e.g. against predatory attacks) and the use of information (e.g. greater trust). To investigate these ideas, we study a habituated wild population of dwarf mongooses in the Limpopo Province of South Africa.

Who are the team involved?

Dr Andy Radford, Julie Kern, Charlotte Christensen and Amy Morris-Drake (University of Bristol), Prof Nigel Bennett (University of Pretoria) and a wonderful team of field assistants. But, the stars of the show are the dwarf mongooses – we have eight groups habituated to our close presence and who we have individually marked with blonde hair dye (using an elongated paint brush). We are able to walk within a few feet of them, collect incredibly detailed information on their behaviour and conduct carefully controlled experiments… all within the natural habitat. We have also been able to train the mongooses to jump on a scale to weigh themselves and to lick a cotton bud to provide a saliva sample for DNA analysis!

Hayley Mongooses (9)

Key team member!

What will the results show?

We know that bonds between individual dwarf mongoose group members vary considerably in strength. We expect that they might choose to associate more closely with their ‘friends’ when foraging, potentially sharing food and competing less (thus allowing more time focussing on finding prey). We also expect that friends will be more likely to respond to the ‘help me’ calls given when individuals encounter a predator that needs to be attacked, such as a snake. Moreover, we predict that information provided by friends (e.g. when acting as a sentinel – a raised guard looking for danger) will be trusted more than that from other group members. These results would allow us to assess why animals form friendships.

IMG_9482

Through weighing the mongooses we can monitor pregnancies and weight changes at different times of the year

weights

Julie weighing the dwarf mongooses

What are your stretch goals if you overfund?

The funding requested would enable detailed behavioural observations, sound recordings and acoustic analysis, and a series of playback experiments to be conducted at our study site. Additional funds would be used to run laboratory-based DNA analysis, utilising the saliva samples the mongooses have been trained to provide us with. DNA analysis would allow us to consider whether group members prefer to spend time with, and help, closer relatives.

When can you start this research?

The Dwarf Mongoose Project has been running continuously since 2011; we have a team of researchers in the field throughout the year to maintain habituation and marking of the study animals and to collect data in different seasons. As such, we would start the proposed work as soon as the funding goal was achieved and the relevant people were on site.

Press

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http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/dec/20/crowdfunding-rescues-science-research-mongooses-moon

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We have great rewards on offer too!

All donations, no matter how large or small, will be rewarded with a personal thank you on our Twitter and Facebook pages!

Pledge £5

Receive a professional, high-resolution photograph taken on site by wildlife photographer Shannon Benson. Perfect for your desktop! Pick your favourite from the following 5.

African Mammals African Mammals African Mammals African Mammals African Mammals

Pledge £10

Receive monthly updates from the Dwarf Mongoose Project over the next 12 months. We will tell you about the research progress, important events within our groups, and on-site anecdotes. You will also receive a professional, high-resolution photograph taken by wildlife photographer Shannon Benson (see above).

Pledge £20

“Say it with a mongoose”! Send a personal message to your friends and family. Send us the text that you would like to appear on the field “message board” with our mongooses.

Pledge £25

Adopt a Mongoose! Choose one of our 5 charismatic mongooses and follow your chosen character on his/her adventures. You’ll receive an official certificate of adoption (including a photo) and be able to check in with your new friend through 2-monthly updates over the next 12 months.

The Dwarf Mongoose Project currently follows 8 habituated groups (Scallywags, Bookworms, Fish Eagles, Half pints, Giraffe, Shakespeares, Jelly babies and Looney Toons). Our five mongooses have been selected for their remarkable personalities and their high level of cuteness. Come take a look and pick your favourite!

Hermia - dominant female. What this power lady lacks in mobility, she makes up for in class! Hermia is the three-legged, dominant female of the Shakespeares clan. Despite her slight handicap, she keeps up with the group, forages successfully and, indeed, manages to keep the dominant male on his toes.

Hermia – dominant female: What this power lady lacks in mobility, she makes up for in class! Hermia is the three-legged, dominant female of the Shakespeares clan. Despite her slight handicap, she keeps up with the group, forages successfully and, indeed, manages to keep the dominant male on his toes.

Rolo: Sub-ordinate male. At 2 years old, Rolo has recently managed the risky transition from one group to another, leaving his home group ‘the Jelly Babies’ to join the neighbours. Despite a hostile reception, Rolo has settled in well and is now an important member of his new group, the Fish Eagles.

Rolo – Sub-ordinate male: At 2 years old, Rolo has recently managed the risky transition from one group to another, leaving his home group ‘the Jelly Babies’ to join the neighbours. Despite a hostile reception, Rolo has settled in well and is now an important member of his new group, the Fish Eagles.

Jezebel

Jezebel – Sub-ordinate female: Jezebel is without a doubt the star of her group “the Scallywags”. The group is renowned for its wicked ways, but all mischief is forgiven when Jez enthusiastically runs up to you and sweetly licks the sticky egg off your fingers. Out of all the mongooses, she is the most habituated to our presence and regularly comes to chill out in our shadow. That being said, she is a Scallywag to the core and partakes in all group-activities.

Pingu - Pup. Little Pingu loves to play with the other pups in the Giraffe group. While the adults of the group are foraging, Pingu can be found chasing his siblings, ambushing them from behind a rock and doing roly-polies between the vegetation. For now his only job is to have fun learning but one day, Pingu will grow up to be an indispensable group-member of the Giraffe clan.

Pingu – Pup: Little Pingu loves to play with the other pups in the Giraffe group. While the adults of the group are foraging, Pingu can be found chasing his siblings, ambushing them from behind a rock and doing roly-polies between the vegetation. For now his only job is to have fun learning but one day, Pingu will grow up to be an indispensable group-member of the Giraffe clan.

Borimir - Dominant Male As top dog at the Bookworms, Borimir must keep his group members in check while helping to protect them from danger. As the dominant male he will have his work cut out for him this breeding season, fathering all of the litters.

Borimir – Dominant Male: As top dog at the Bookworms, Borimir must keep his group members in check while helping to protect them from danger. As the dominant male he will have his work cut out for him this breeding season, fathering all of the litters.

Pledge £50

Receive 5 Video Diaries via our private YouTube-channel. These will cover an array of topics, including data collection in the field (e.g. sound recording techniques), specific mongoose behaviours (e.g. scent-marking) and a day-in-the-life of a researcher. Perfect for educational purposes.

Pledge £100

School, event or community presentation by a dwarf mongoose researcher. Hear about the project and engage in a Q&A session. In person (if within 1 h of Bristol) or via a video link (if further afield). For more information please contact info@walacea.com

Pledge £100

Come visit us in Bristol! Join the core team members of the Dwarf Mongoose project for a fun lunch where you can bring all your mongoose questions to the table (Lunch provided). For more information please contact info@walacea.com

Pledge £250

Come visit us in South Africa on Sorabi Rock Lodge! Join us on an exclusive mongoose expedition for the day, walk with the researchers and get up close and personal to our fascinating study animals (travel expenses and lodging not included). For more information please contact info@walacea.com.

Pledge £1000

Become an official sponsor. If you are interested in this option, please contact us to discuss further. For more information please contact info@walacea.com

Group Foraging Hayley Muir (2)

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CONTINUE
  • 19 Backers

    Receive a professional, high-resolution photograph taken on site by wildlife photographer Shannon Benson. Perfect for your desktop! Pick your favourite from 5 options

  • 26 Backers

    Receive monthly updates from the Dwarf Mongoose Project over the next 12 months. We will tell you about the research progress, important events within our groups, and on-site anecdotes. You will also receive a professional, high-resolution photograph taken by wildlife photographer Shannon Benson (see above).

  • 3 Backers

    “Say it with a mongoose”! Send a personal message to your friends and family. Send us the text that you would like to appear on the field “message board” with our mongooses.

  • 27 Backers

    Adopt a Mongoose! Choose one of our 5 charismatic mongooses and follow your chosen character on his/her adventures. You’ll receive an official certificate of adoption (including a photo) and be able to check in with your new friend through 2-monthly updates over the next 12 months.

  • 18 Backers

    Receive 5 Video Diaries via our private YouTube-channel. These will cover an array of topics, including data collection in the field (e.g. sound recording techniques), specific mongoose behaviours (e.g. scent-marking) and a day-in-the-life of a researcher. Perfect for educational purposes.

  • 4 Backers

    School, event or community presentation by a dwarf mongoose researcher. Hear about the project and engage in a Q&A session. In person (if within 1 h of Bristol) or via a video link (if further afield)

  • 2 Backers

    Come visit us in Bristol! Join the core team members of the Dwarf Mongoose project for a fun lunch where you can bring all your mongoose questions to the table. (Lunch provided)

  • 3 Backers

    Come visit us in South Africa on Sorabi Rock Lodge! Join us on an exclusive mongoose expedition for the day, walk with the researchers and get up close and personal to our fascinating study animals (travel expenses and lodging not included).

  • 1 Backer

    Become an official sponsor. If you are interested in this option, please contact us to discuss further

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General Overview

This Campaign has ended. No more pledges can be made.

  • 19 Backers

    Receive a professional, high-resolution photograph taken on site by wildlife photographer Shannon Benson. Perfect for your desktop! Pick your favourite from 5 options

  • 26 Backers

    Receive monthly updates from the Dwarf Mongoose Project over the next 12 months. We will tell you about the research progress, important events within our groups, and on-site anecdotes. You will also receive a professional, high-resolution photograph taken by wildlife photographer Shannon Benson (see above).

  • 3 Backers

    “Say it with a mongoose”! Send a personal message to your friends and family. Send us the text that you would like to appear on the field “message board” with our mongooses.

  • 27 Backers

    Adopt a Mongoose! Choose one of our 5 charismatic mongooses and follow your chosen character on his/her adventures. You’ll receive an official certificate of adoption (including a photo) and be able to check in with your new friend through 2-monthly updates over the next 12 months.

  • 18 Backers

    Receive 5 Video Diaries via our private YouTube-channel. These will cover an array of topics, including data collection in the field (e.g. sound recording techniques), specific mongoose behaviours (e.g. scent-marking) and a day-in-the-life of a researcher. Perfect for educational purposes.

  • 4 Backers

    School, event or community presentation by a dwarf mongoose researcher. Hear about the project and engage in a Q&A session. In person (if within 1 h of Bristol) or via a video link (if further afield)

  • 2 Backers

    Come visit us in Bristol! Join the core team members of the Dwarf Mongoose project for a fun lunch where you can bring all your mongoose questions to the table. (Lunch provided)

  • 3 Backers

    Come visit us in South Africa on Sorabi Rock Lodge! Join us on an exclusive mongoose expedition for the day, walk with the researchers and get up close and personal to our fascinating study animals (travel expenses and lodging not included).

  • 1 Backer

    Become an official sponsor. If you are interested in this option, please contact us to discuss further