A suggested reading list

I just gave a talk on vampire bat cooperation, and someone asked me for a reading list to introduce them to the topics I talked about (cooperation, reciprocity, social bonds, etc). So here it is (real quick, no time to put links). I chose review papers wherever possible and only picked empirical studies with results that make important points (marked with ***). Some of the empirical results are just a single paper that’s part of a larger story with more papers. In this case, I picked my favorite one. My suggested reading list of papers on cooperation (just my opinion, don’t get mad if your favorite is missing):

Evolution of cooperation

  • West, S. A., Griffin, A. S., & Gardner, A. (2007). Evolutionary explanations for cooperation. Current Biology—This paper is the best short introduction to the field.
  • ***Griffin, A.S., West, S.A. & Buckling, A. (2004) Cooperation and competition in pathogenic bacteria. Nature—An experimental evolution study that demonstrates empirically how the scale of competition interacts with genetic relatedness: cooperating with kin is less advantageous when you compete with those same kin for resources.

Human cooperation

  • West, S. A., El Mouden, C., & Gardner, A. (2011). Sixteen common misconceptions about the evolution of cooperation in humans. Evolution and Human Behavior. —Great review paper that helps clear up the huge amount of confusion in evolutionary studies of human cooperation.
  • ***Burton-Chellew, M.N. & West, S.A. (2013). Pro-social preferences do not explain human cooperation in public-goods games. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. — Great paper. Explains the problem with an entire faulty approach to studying human cooperation.
  • DeScioli, P., & Kurzban, R. (2013). A solution to the mysteries of morality. Psychological Bulletin. — A very innovative solution to a very good puzzle.

Direct fitness benefits

  • Trivers, R. L. (1971). The evolution of reciprocal altruism. Quarterly Review of Biology. —People should read this paper again. There’s a lot of great ideas packed into it.
  • Carter, G. G. (2014). The reciprocity controversy. Animal Behavior and Cognition. —Please ignore the fact that you’ve never heard of this journal! I argue that most of the reciprocity controversy is semantic (much like the “kin selection” vs “group selection” confusion).
  • ***Wilkinson, G. S. (1984). Reciprocal food sharing in the vampire bat. Nature. —Argues that reciprocity can occur between relatives, but that point was, and still is, largely overlooked.
  • Bshary, R., Grutter, A. S., Willener, A. S., & Leimar, O. (2008). Pairs of cooperating cleaner fish provide better service quality than singletons. Nature, 455(7215), 964-966.
  • ***Zöttl, M., Heg, D., Chervet, N., & Taborsky, M. (2013). Kinship reduces alloparental care in cooperative cichlids where helpers pay-to-stay. Nature communications, 4, 1341. —This study shows an interesting interaction between kinship and enforcement.
  • Ratnieks, F. L., & Wenseleers, T. (2008). Altruism in insect societies and beyond: voluntary or enforced? TREE. —A good review of the same topic.

Partner choice and biological markets

  • Noë, R., & Hammerstein, P. (1994). Biological markets: supply and demand determine the effect of partner choice in cooperation, mutualism and mating. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. — The best new ideas for understanding more complex cooperation since Trivers (1971).
  • Noë, R. (2006). Cooperation experiments: coordination through communication versus acting apart together. Animal Behaviour. — The best review of cooperation/reciprocity experiments and what’s wrong with so many of them.
  • ***Fruteau, C., Voelkl, B., Van Damme, E., & Noë, R. (2009). Supply and demand determine the market value of food providers in wild vervet monkeys. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. — This is maybe my favorite study of cooperation. It demonstrates so many things: not only partner choice and market effects like supple and demand, but also that food is easily exchanged for other services like grooming.
  • ***Kiers, E. T., Duhamel, M., Beesetty, Y., Mensah, J. A., Franken, O., Verbruggen, E., … & Bücking, H. (2011). Reciprocal rewards stabilize cooperation in the mycorrhizal symbiosis. Science. I love it!! Very clean result. Amazing experiment.

Cooperative social bonds

  • Seyfarth, R. M., & Cheney, D. L. (2012). The evolutionary origins of friendship. Annual Review of Psychology. The best review on this growing literature.
  • Dunbar, R. I., & Shultz, S. (2007). Evolution in the social brain. Science, 317(5843), 1344-1347.—a good argument for why social bonds are not simple emergent byproducts (like psuedoreciprocity).

Oxytocin and cooperation

  • ***Madden, J. R., & Clutton-Brock, T. H. (2011). Experimental peripheral administration of oxytocin elevates a suite of cooperative behaviours in a wild social mammal. Proceedings B. — Shows the power of peripheral OT for manipulating behavior, and that one mechanism underlies several cooperative behaviors.
  • Crockford, C., Deschner, T., Ziegler, T. E., & Wittig, R. M. (2014). Endogenous peripheral oxytocin measures can give insight into the dynamics of social relationships: a review. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.— A great review of an exploding field.

Others, maybe unrelated, but personal favorites of mine

  • Karban, R., Shiojiri, K., Ishizaki, S., Wetzel, W. C., & Evans, R. Y. (2013). Kin recognition affects plant communication and defence. Proceedings B. —Incredible.
  • Page, R. A., & Ryan, M. J. (2006). Social transmission of novel foraging behavior in bats: frog calls and their referents. Current Biology. — One of the best behavioral studies on bats and paved the way for many other great studies.
  • Gould, E. (1988). Wing-clapping sounds of Eonycteris spelaea (Pteropodidae) in Malaysia. Journal of Mammalogy. A hidden gem. Ed Gould was right: they do echolocate with their wings: See the confirmation experiments by Yossi Yovel.
  • von Helversen, D., & von Helversen, O. (1999). Acoustic guide in bat-pollinated flower. Nature. — What a great discovery.
  • Killingsworth, M. A., & Gilbert, D. T. (2010). A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science. — Fun quick read.
  • Dudley, S. A., & File, A. L. (2007). Kin recognition in an annual plant. Biology Letters. — What a joy!
  • Ratcliffe, J. M., Fenton, M. B., & Galef, B. G. (2003). An exception to the rule: common vampire bats do not learn taste aversions. Animal Behaviour. — This is a nice example of a great prediction leading to a great experiment and a great result. A great little story.
  • Gould, E., Woolf, N. K., & Turner, D. C. (1973). Double-note communication calls in bats: occurrence in three families. Journal of Mammalogy, 998-1001. — I like this study because it introduced the idea of really studying bats for communication rather than just echolocation. Also, it kick-started and inspired my masters work when I notice these same call types made by adult vampires.
  • Boughman, J. W., & Wilkinson, G. S. (1998). Greater spear-nosed bats discriminate group mates by vocalizations. Animal Behaviour, 55(6), 1717-1732. — Such a great story and fits together so well with other work.

I’m sorry if your own paper does not show up in this list. There are a lot of great papers and I can’t think of them all off the top of my head. These are the ones that came to me just now.


About Gerry Carter

I study the behavioral, sensory, and social ecology of vampire bats. http://socialbat.org.
This entry was posted in About cooperation. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A suggested reading list

  1. Gerry Carter says:

    Feel free to leave your favorites in the comments

  2. Ronald Noë says:

    This certainly is one reading list you won’t hear me complain about.
    For those who actually want to read more: PDFs of the 3 papers in Gerald’s list that I authored as well as references to many others related to biological markets can be found on my website: https://sites.google.com/site/ronaldnoe/RN-home

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