Forbes: How to bond with your people based on unexpected science

Forbes highlights UC insights about squirrel survival strategies

Forbes highlighted insights by University of Cincinnati behavioral ecologist Annemarie van der Marel about the survival strategies of Barbary ground squirrels in the Canary Islands.

The story looked to cues from nature to highlight ways people can stay connected, particularly in wake of a global pandemic that has created a deep sense of isolation among many people over the past two years.

Van der Marel, a postdoctoral researcher in UC assistant professor Elizabeth Hobson's biology lab, spent three winters studying Barbary ground squirrels, an invasive species found in the Canary Islands off the coast of Morocco.

Van der Marel found that to stay safe from predators, the squirrels kept watch together, a strategy called synchronous vigilance. Her study was published in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

“I looked at whether and why they were social. I began studying the strategies for how they evade predation and increase survival. That’s how I got to the question of the synchronous vigilance of the species,” van der Marel said.

Forbes writer Tracy Brower suggested people can be more like ground squirrels by watching out for each other metaphorically.

“By being vigilant and helping ensure others’ success we build relationships, but also contribute to the success of the whole,” Brower wrote.

Read the Forbes story.

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