Introduction to the special column: Communication, cooperation, and cognition in predators

09 Aug 2017

Communication is the glue that holds societies together, and many of the benefits that social species gain from living in groups rely on intra-group communication. We might expect that highly social species with more to communicate about will have more complex communication systems and more complex cognitive abilities. Social carnivores are one such group, as they often engage in a number of complex cooperative social behaviors, such as coordinating movement through space while maintaining social cohesion. Cooperative hunting also introduces challenges not present in other collaborative activities, most notably attention to the dynamic behavior of other individuals, whether hunter or prey. We suggest an integrative framework linking the tripartite behavioral complex: communication, cooperation and cognition, and linking multiple interactions between these three elements of behavior, and also the external environment, both physical and social. This special issue emerged from a symposium at a scientific meeting, Behaviour 2015 in Cairns, Australia, and draws together insights into the relationship between communication, cooperation, and cognition from studies of multiple species of cooperative predators. All the studies in this issue raise questions that are relevant for understanding the nature and evolution of complex cognition and cooperation, but also address real-world questions of conservation and management.