Group behaviours in Singapore's smooth-coated otters and the evolution of cooperative breeding
by Fan Zheng | Haaken Bungum | Yeo Zhi Yi | Sarah Lim | Channelle Chua Ee Eun | Philip Johns | BCNCS, National University of Singapore | University of Göttingen | Yale-NUS College | Yale-NUS College | Yale-NUS College | Yale-NUS College
Abstract ID: 191
Event: The 3rd AsiaEvo Conference
Topic: Behavioral evolution in vertebrates: diversity, genomics and mechanisms
Presenter Name: Philip Johns

The cause of the evolution of cooperative breeding, where adult offspring remain with family groups as helpers, is not fully resolved. In smooth-coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata), adult offspring remain with family groups, sometimes for years. Smooth-coated otters have repopulated and thrived in urban Singapore, which allows for careful observation of their behaviors. Here we present recent findings of group living in Singapore’s otters, including active teaching in groups, coordinated foraging in groups, group defense against heterospecific threats, and group territorial defense. We pose questions about the inheritance of group resources between generations and describe the possibility that the genomic background of Singapore’s otters influences their sociality. We outline future research that would help resolve how cooperative breeding evolved in otters.