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Why intergroup variation matters for understanding behaviour

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

Intergroup variation (IGV) refers to variation between different groups of the same species. While its existence in the behavioural realm has been expected and evidenced, the potential effects of IGV are rarely considered in studies that aim to shed light on the evolutionary origins of human socio-cognition, especially in our closest living relatives—the great apes. Here, by taking chimpanzees as a point of reference, we argue that (i) IGV could plausibly explain inconsistent research findings across numerous topics of inquiry (experimental/behavioural studies on chimpanzees), (ii) understanding the evolutionary origins of behaviour requires an accurate assessment of species’ modes of behaving across different socio-ecological contexts, which necessi- tates a reliable estimation of variation across intraspecific groups, and (iii) IGV in the behavioural realm is increasingly likely to be expected owing to the progressive identification of non-human animal cultures. With these points, and by extrapolating from chimpanzees to generic guidelines, we aim to encourage researchers to explicitly consider IGV as an explanatory variable in future studies attempting to understand the socio-cognitive and evolutionary determinants of behaviour in group-living animals.
Tijdschrift: Biology Letters
Volume: 15
Aantal pagina's: 6
Jaar van publicatie:2019
  • Scopus Id: 85074921940
  • ArticleNumber: 20190695