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Red squirrels: Altruists or self-serving survivalists?
Date:6/2/2010

e so-called law of the jungle and survival of the fittest, altruistic behavior can exist. But this altruism is restricted to family members only.

Female red squirrels will only adopt an abandoned baby it shares common genes with and will only pick one lucky squirrel from an entire litter of foundlings.

Gorrell says the adopting squirrel, already a single mother supporting her own family, will adopt just one family-linked foundling. Having an extra family member helps the adopting mother ensure a continuation of the gene pool. But adopting more than one foundling is out of the question because the cost to the adoptive mother and her biological offspring outweighs the potential benefit.


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Contact: Brian Murphy
brian.murphy@ualberta.ca
780-492-6041
University of Alberta
Source:Eurekalert

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