Cooperation among Norway rats: The importance of visual cues for reciprocal cooperation, and the role of coercion

Dolivo Beuret, Vassilissa; Taborsky, Michael (2015). Cooperation among Norway rats: The importance of visual cues for reciprocal cooperation, and the role of coercion. Ethology, 121(11), pp. 1071-1080. Wiley-Blackwell 10.1111/eth.12421

[img] Text
Dolivo_Ethology2015OnlineEarly.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to registered users only
Available under License Publisher holds Copyright.

Download (929kB) | Request a copy

Some animals reciprocate help, but the underlying proximate mecha- nisms are largely unclear. Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) have been shown to cooperate in a variant of the iterated prisoner’s dilemma paradigm, yet it is unknown which sensory modalities they use. Visual information is often implicitly assumed to play a major role in social inter- actions, but primarily nocturnal species such as Norway rats may rely on different cues when deciding to reciprocate received help. We used an instrumental cooperative task to compare the test rats’ propensity to recip- rocate received help between two experimental conditions, with and without visual information exchange between social partners. Our results show that visual information is not required for reciprocal cooperation among social partners because even when it was lacking, test rats provided food significantly earlier to partners that had helped them to obtain food before than to those that had not done so. The mean decision speed did not differ between the two experimental conditions, with or without visual information. Social partners sometimes showed aggressive behaviour towards focal test individuals. When including this in the anal- yses to assess the possible role of aggression as a trigger of cooperation, aggression received from cooperators apparently reduced the cooperation propensity, whereas aggression received from defectors increased it. Hence, in addition to reciprocity, coercion seems to provide additional means to generate altruistic help in Norway rats.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Behavioural Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Dolivo Beuret, Vassilissa and Taborsky, Michael


500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)








Karin Schneeberger

Date Deposited:

17 Nov 2016 14:00

Last Modified:

17 Nov 2016 14:00

Publisher DOI:





Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback