Social living mitigates the costs of a chronic illness in a cooperative carnivore

Ecology Letters
By: , and 



Infection risk is assumed to increase with social group size, and thus be a cost of group living. We assess infection risk and costs with respect to group size using data from an epidemic of sarcoptic mange (Sarcoptes scabiei) among grey wolves (Canis lupus). We demonstrate that group size does not predict infection risk and that individual costs of infection, in terms of reduced survival, can be entirely offset by having sufficient numbers of pack-mates. Infected individuals experience increased mortality hazards with increasing proportions of infected pack-mates, but healthy individuals remain unaffected. The social support of group hunting and territory defence are two possible mechanisms mediating infection costs. This is likely a common phenomenon among other social species and chronic infections, but difficult to detect in systems where infection status cannot be measured continuously over time.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Social living mitigates the costs of a chronic illness in a cooperative carnivore
Series title Ecology Letters
DOI 10.1111/ele.12444
Volume 18
Issue 7
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Blackwell Science
Publisher location Oxford
Contributing office(s) Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, Contaminant Biology Program
Description 8 p.
First page 660
Last page 667
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional metadata about this publication, not found in other parts of the page is in this table