What is an explanation for cooperative behavior among non-related animals?
I understand the question but, it's for an AP BIOLOGY assignment. And, she wants a detailed specific answer. I understand that related animals cooperate, even when their is no reward, for future relationships (bottle nose dolphins). But, I don't understand why Non-Related animals would do it.
I am assuming by non-related, that your teacher means animals that are of the same species, but are not related kin (family). From an evolutionary standpoint, the cooperation must provide a benefit that increases fitness. So non -family members help each other out because it increases the rate of survival of their offspring in some way. A University of California Santa Cruz professor found cooperation among unrelated individuals of the blue side-blotched lizard. They established that the cooperating lizards were not brothers or sisters or cousins, etc. The male blue lizards set up their territories and then work together to protect their female mates. The females are, therefore, better defended against predators. The offspring of the cooperating blue lizards in turn have a much higher survival rate. The link below describes the article. I imagine there are many such examples across the animal kingdom.
You are referring to symbiosis, in this case mutualism. For example, the shark and the remora fish cooperate. In this relationship, the remora fish feeds on parasites on the shark's body and benefits and the shark benefits by this activity as well. Another example is the American acacia tree and certain stinging ants. The ants feed on sugars produced by the tree and make a nest among the thorns. If any other insects land on the tree, they surround and kill it. They also cut down and kill competing trees in the nearby environment. Remove these ants, and the American acacia dies! Evolution has produced many relationships among non-related species that are benefical to both members. Mutualism is a win-win relationship for both.