Nature’s complexity must be infinite. It’s certainly unpredictable. I am in awe of the nature lessons I learn every week.
This time, let’s explore some of the latest information about animal cooperation behaviors that were once thought to only be the purview of humans. Here are a couple of examples.
Most folks are aware of the family, community relationships, and cooperative behaviors of elephants. You may also recognize similar behaviors among some species of whales. Now, researchers have discovered that giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis), once thought to experience only casual relationships, actually have strong family-centric behaviors. Most interesting is the role of the post-reproductive females, also known as the post-menopausal non-mothers. The unexpected finding revealed that these older giraffes are essential to help raise the young that are born within their matrilineal line.
This behavior doesn’t surprise me. However, it seems to be big news in the scientific community. I’ll bet if research teams did closer observations of deer behavior, similar family and helper dynamics would be identified. I’m sure I’ve witnessed this intergenerational support among those deer that share our land.
To learn more about giraffe social behavior — https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mam.12268
When you think about bees, do you picture a busy hive, active with hundreds of buzzing worker bees? I do. I was surprised to learn that social bees such as honeybees (Apis spp.) or bumblebees (Bombus spp.) make up less than 10 percent of all bee species worldwide. The remaining 90 percent are comprised of solitary bees.
Female solitary bees prepare their nests in cracks and crevices, often in the ground. I’ve seen these nests. You probably have as well. Although, I didn’t realize that this was the behavior of most bee species.
Seemingly in contradiction to their single lifestyle, some solitary species do aggregate their living quarters. As an analogy, these bees have a studio in an apartment complex. Compare that to the commune living of honeybees and bumblebees.
Just because they are solitary bees doesn’t mean that they can’t help each other. Like the giraffes, females of certain solitary bee species will cooperate in nest building and offspring-rearing. Apparently, bees can have strong communities and still respect individuality.
There is so much to learn.
A comprehensive resource about Solitary Bees is Bryan N. Danforth’s book, The Solitary Bees: Biology, Evolution, Conservation.