Jillyan Tang Rose Hills
Determining Predictors of Dispersal in Colonial Tuco-Tucos
Social behavior is a characteristic of mammalian biology that significantly affects individual fitness and survival. Differences in a species’ social composition are often indicated by the differences in their dispersal behaviors. Our project seeks to investigate the neural mechanisms that explain dispersal behavior among mammals. To address this, we are studying the social behavior of colonial tuco-tucos (Ctenomys sociabilis) because of their unique variation in social dynamics and female dispersal patterns. By studying these animals (which are the only captive population of this species worldwide) we hope to create the foundation for studies of possible correlations between neural pathways and sociality in controlled behavioral experiments which would otherwise be inaccessible in a wild sample. This information is utilized in conjunction with field studies of these tuco-tucos to contextualize behaviors seen in the wild. Our research has implications for better understanding the evolutionary biology of social behavior and the health of mammals, including humans.