Club EvMed: Social distancing in the animal kingdom - Shared screen with speaker view
left (my left)
Joseph Graves Jr
Guess I would have died because I couldn’t tell!
I couldn't tell either. Maybe people are more attuned to people of their own age? That would be interesting.
Reminds me of how tuberculosis (consumption) was considered a disease that made you beautiful for a large part of the last couple of centuries. May be this is not as strong a evopsych theory as others.
You could tell in the eyes :)
Meredith Spence Beaulieu, Ph.D.
It was quite subtle - less pink lips, slight bags under the eyes, maybe slightly grayer overall skin tone
Joseph Graves Jr
I looked at the eyes, I couldn’t tell. That only means this capacity is variable.
I saw a slight downward turn to the mouth on the left
To clarify: My hypothesis on age was based on Julia's report of (I think) college students.
I thought left looked less friendly, more surly, so guessed it was that one - but wouldn't have thought they were sick necessarily
(am similar age, so n of 1 extra on that hypothesis)
Joseph Graves Jr
All those phenotypes could have resulted from lack of sleep, so unless I see obvious signs like running nose, red eyes, oozing sores…I wouldn’t know.
The left eye looks especially red and darkness under her eyes seem darker the non-sick girl/woman….possibly indicating venous pooling often associated with nano-respiratory compromise and mouth-breathing?
The necessary reaction is simply spending less time around the person: I would have been less inclined to hang around left, because seemingly less friendly, without consciously recognising they were sick
Maybe mycobacterium mongoose is akin to toxoplasma in modifying the behaviour of the mongooses to help spread their kind!
When an individual experiences cues of risk but can’t avoid contact (or too risky/costly to do so), do they enhance immune defenses in some way? Any evidence for that?
I've got to go host another (long-scheduled, unmovable) meeting. Thank you, Dana and Julia! This is super cool and thought-provoking.
IN reply to Charlie: Steve Cole’s sociogenomics work suggests that yes
They do lower the immune defenses in some cases by releasing corticosteroids, I’d think.
Oscar R. Sánchez
Which of the two sexes have or would be expected to have these avoidance mechanisms more developed?What is the importance of testosterone in these mechanisms? for that of its immunosuppressive characteristic?
Evidence for density-dependent prophylaxis in insects and voles?
not exactly the same as Charlie’s context, but close
Great point, Marty!
Is it possible that some of the social prejudices between human population could be a residue of conspecific avoidance mechanism?
yes, that has definitely been suggested
Morning sickness equals ‘disgust in overdrive’….I love it!
A big difference between our current social distancing in humans and what we see in animals is that we can disseminate information widely to encourage social distancing, while animals have to undergo selection or learn to avoid based on their experiences. Do we know when/if avoidance is learned or innate, and what characteristics of pathogens or hosts might enable evolution of an innate response vs reliance on learning?
What if human immune systems are being downregulated by isolation!!!
What about for solitary species? Territoriality is often linked to resources - but any evidence that solitary animals are more immune vulnerable or avoiding infection?
Do high avoiders with low immune markers indicate that they are immune-vulnerable and therefore avoid infected individuals, or that their social avoidance was successful and therefore they have minimally activated their immune system?
Is sexual selection linked to this in terms of signaling no disgust, healthiness, free of disease?
Yes, Anna - great question. Some have hypothesized that territoriality has evolved in part as the ultimate “social distancing” behavior. As far as I know, it’s not very well understood to what extent that benefit drives territoriality among animals- it’s a fascinating question!
re- sexual selection and disease signalling--the Hamilton-Zuk hypothesis proposed that ornaments (eg fancy feathers) allow animals to make decisions about potential mate health
Great point, Adam- there is evidence that social isolation can suppress immunity in humans and other animals. The cost of that would have to be outweighed by the benefits of distancing for the behavior to persist in nature- there may be some species for which that isn’t the case.
Thanks for the answer! The correlation suggests lots of follow-up work. Thank you!
In terms of responses to the risk of infection, I used to be the Risk Manager at Public Health England and risk is measured in terms of probability x impact. Also the responses are; tolerate, treat, transfer, terminate. Are these ideas relevant to your studies?
The trade-offs are interesting. In the forest, tree-cavity nesters consider the benefits but the risk since predators and pathogens concentrate there. Likewise for watering holes as necessary points of congregation. Like going to the grocery store with COVID.
Medium is also a great outlet for this, much like The Conversation
Might the emergence of human class systems be driven my social distancing, eg gated communities?
It’s certainly a possibility, Ron
A shout out to Robert May who died this week.
Not at all related to this conversation ….but how about Vaughn Cooper’s prediction about possible efficacy of remdecivir?!
Thanks Julia and Dana! Nice work!
Thank you, Julia, Dana, and best wishes for continued work!
Thanks Julia and Dana - this will be in some capacity the lead topic in my fall Intro Biology class
Thank you everyone! That’s great to hear, Laura :)
Oscar R. Sánchez