Navigation Links
Fairy wrens: Accountants of the animal kingdom
Date:3/18/2011

A puzzling example of altruism in nature has been debunked with researchers showing that purple-crowned fairy wrens are in reality cunningly planning for their own future when they assist in raising other birds' young by balancing the amount of assistance they give with the benefits they expect to receive in the future.

Dr Anne Peters, of the Monash University School of Biological Sciences, together with co-authors Sjouke Kingma from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and Michelle L. Hall of the Australian National University, have conducted a long term study of the cooperative breeding behaviour of fairy-wrens in tropical Australia.

The results, published in the prestigious journal The American Naturalist, show that helpers are not motivated by kindness.

"The study showed that the seemingly selfless little helpers are in fact carefully calculating accountants" said Dr Peters, senior author of the study.

Cooperative breeding, where birds apparently selflessly raise others' offspring, has long perplexed biologists as this behaviour runs counter to Darwin's theory of natural selection, which predicts that individuals invest only in their own reproduction.

Fairy-wrens are habitual cooperative breeders. The helpers are generally older silblings or half-siblings of the current nestlings, and their behaviour is likely explained by an instinctive desire to see more of their shared genes entering the gene pool.

Purple-crowned fairy-wrens extend this assistance to unrelated nestlings.

Dr Peters' study shows that these apparently altruistic helpers are actually playing a selfish game: they help when their chances of inheriting the current breeding territory are greater, and they are thus helping to raise their own future assistants.

"Ours is the first study to show that helpers at the nest adjust their behaviour precisely according to multiple potential rewards: they provide food to kin, and to unrelated nestlings to produce future helpers of their own," Dr Peters said.

"However, we suspect once more researchers look at their study species in this dual light, more cases will be found of helpers that can do their sums so precisely."


'/>"/>

Contact: Emily Walker
media@monash.edu
61-399-034-840
Monash University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Long-term study shows effect of climate change on animal diversity
2. Researchers find animal with ability to survive climate change
3. Researchers note differences between people and animals on calorie restriction
4. Earliest animal footprints ever found -- discovered in Nevada
5. Details of evolutionary transition from fish to land animals revealed
6. Drug-embedded microparticles bolster heart function in animal studies
7. Swamping bad cells with good in ALS animal models helps sustain breathing
8. Moderate use averts failure of type 2 diabetes drugs in animal model
9. Grapes may aid a bunch of heart risk factors, animal study finds
10. Animal and biological science highlights: San Antonio Fluid Dynamics Conference, Nov. 23-25
11. Discovery of giant roaming deep sea protist provides new perspective on animal evolution
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/15/2016)... and BADEN-BADEN, Germany , December 15, ... global financial services provider, today announced an agreement with NuData ... biometrics, to join forces. The partnership will enable clients to ... in compliance with local data protection regulation. ... In order to provide ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... Dec. 14, 2016 "Increase in mobile transactions ... The mobile biometrics market is expected to grow from ... by 2022, at a CAGR of 29.3% between 2016 ... as the growing demand for smart devices, government initiatives, ... "Software component is expected to grow at a ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... Israel , December 7, 2016 BioCatch ... the expansion of its patent portfolio, which grew to over 40 granted ... , , ... its recently filed patent entitled " System, Device, and Method ... technology that enables device makers to forego costly hardware components needed to ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/23/2017)... 2017  Spherix Incorporated (Nasdaq: SPEX ) ... of technology and monetization of intellectual property, today provided ... Anthony Hayes , Chief Executive Officer of ... to communicate with shareholders about the status of existing ... on other patent assets that fit with our current ...
(Date:1/23/2017)... ... January 23, 2017 , ... Calvert Labs, Inc. announced ... and Senior Director, Safety Pharmacology. Dr. Thomas earned his M.Sc. and Ph.D. ... career as an academic and industry preclinical drug developer spans more than three ...
(Date:1/21/2017)... ... January 20, 2017 , ... ... resource to the healthcare industry ( http://www.gandlscientific.com ), has announced the opening of ... of clinical and scientific consultants and contractors. This is the latest step in ...
(Date:1/21/2017)... -- Bioptix, Inc. (Nasdaq: BIOP ... 14, 2017 the Board of Directors of the Company ... certain employees associated with the September 2016 acquisition of ... on January 16, 2017 and terminations are expected to ... severance benefits in certain circumstances of up to one ...
Breaking Biology Technology: