Data from: Adoption in eastern grey kangaroos: a consequence of misdirected care?
King, Wendy J.; Forsyth, David M.; Coulson, Graeme; Festa-Bianchet, Marco (2016), Data from: Adoption in eastern grey kangaroos: a consequence of misdirected care?, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.jr531
Adoption is rare in animals and is usually attributed to kin selection. In a 6-year study of eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus), 11 of 326 juveniles were adopted. We detected eight adoptions by observing behavioural associations and nursing between marked mothers and young and three more by analysing the relatedness of mothers and young using microsatellite DNA. Four adoptions involved reciprocal switches and three were by mothers whose own pouch young were known to subsequently disappear. Adoptive mothers were not closely related to each other or to adoptees but adoptive mothers and young associated as closely as did biological pairs, as measured by half-weight indices. Switch mothers did not associate closely. Maternal age and body condition did not influence the likelihood of adoption but females were more likely to adopt in years with high densities of females with large pouch young. Adoption did not improve juvenile survival. We conclude that adoptions in this wild population were potentially costly and likely caused by misdirected care, suggesting that eastern grey kangaroos may have poorly developed mother-offspring recognition mechanisms.
Wilsons Promontory National Park