“Social isolation” has become one of the hot words this year. But it turns out that humans are not the only animals that keep a distance from others to reduce the spread of disease. Wildlife, from finches to mandrills, the world’s largest monkey primate, are using similar strategies to protect themselves, according to a paper recently published in the proceedings of the Royal Society B. < p > < p > < p > Science interviewed two authors of the study, Andrea Townsend, a behavioral ecologist at Hamilton College, and Dana holly, a biologist at Virginia Tech, to explore “social isolation” in the animal kingdom.
Ande Leah: novel coronavirus pneumonia has many symptoms, so it is difficult for us to judge whether someone is infected. But some animals like the finch use very common behaviors, such as lethargy and lethargy, to identify possible disease infections and avoid the sick ones. < / P > < p > Dana: in other cases, animals have evolved a fairly complex set of “reconnaissance mechanisms” to trigger “social isolation.”. For example, the Caribbean spiny lobster, a common social lobster, has evolved to find chemical clues in the urine of sick lobsters and avoid areas occupied by the sick lobsters. < / P > < p > another example is mandrill, which can “smell and know health”. The researchers did not put a small amount of parasites in the dung of a mandrill tree. They found that the feces of uninhabited mandrills were more attractive to mandrills than to the feces of parasitic mandrills. < / P > < p > Dana: for crayfish, their social behavior is to gather in caves, which can provide a lot of protection for them. So for them, social isolation means giving up their nest, but it’s quite dangerous. There are also situations, more subtle and cunning, that reduce interaction with specific (sick) individuals in a group. < / P > < p > Dana: the best example of “self isolation” comes from social insects like ants and bees. In some cases, infected insects will consciously stay away from the group and die alone. < / P > < p > Andrea: in these types of insect communities, individuals are even more closely related than human families. Therefore, it is also beneficial for individuals to sacrifice themselves to protect the extended family. < / P > < p > Dana: there are several ways to find out the causes of these behaviors. A simple way to do this in wild animals is to remove parasites from them with drugs, and then observe if the “isolation behavior” changes. < / P > < p > the researchers conducted such experiments on mandrills. Mandrills with parasites are shunned by their peers, but once the mandrills are cured, they are given the chance to be groomed again. (editor’s note: when a mandrill is infected with the parasite, the number of times a partner combs its fur and its buttocks is combed less often. It’s a good idea, after all, parasites can be spread through feces.) < / P > < p > the researchers also did a lot of research on ants. They introduced fungal pathogens into ant colonies, and then compared the behavioral responses of ants to those that only introduced aqueous solutions as controls. If you find that the behavior of these animals has changed in order to avoid pathogens, such as limiting activity in their nests or staying out of their nests for longer periods, then this is strong evidence that these animals respond to fungi. Andrea: one of my favorite examples of this is the Tasmanian devil. They have a serious contagious cancer that can be spread by biting. You might think that they should stop biting each other, but biting is very important for their mating: they bite their rivals in order to compete for a mate, and even bite their partners when they mate. < / P > < p > Dana: for me, an important conclusion is that “social isolation” is useful. Any time we see a behavior evolve over and over in a variety of animals, that’s a sign that, despite the high cost of “social isolation,” it still has more advantages than disadvantages.