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:2/11/2016)... , Feb. 11, 2016  According to new ... officially mainstream. More than 200 fingerprint, iris, and ... 2013 under 70 brand names. This includes market ... and ZTE. Acuity projects that 600 million biometric ... the global installed base. Maxine Most ...
(Date:2/11/2016)...  Vigilant Solutions announces today that its license plate recognition ... Lee,s Summit Police Department to improve ... of a homicide suspect. Kansas City ... square miles and is home to roughly 100,000 residents. ... mobile license plate reader system and also leverages Vigilant,s network ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... India , February 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... --> According to 2016 iris recognition ... identification iris recognition is more widely accepted ... available with both fingerprint and iris recognition ... the user to avoid purchasing two individual ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... 12, 2016 , ... The Pittcon 2016 Exposition, which takes ... include 848 exhibitors (count as of February 9) of which 119 are first ... by the scientific community in industrial, academic, and government labs. The Exposition will ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J. , Feb. 12, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... a leading global medical technology company, today announced the ... Advances in Genome Biology and Technology (AGBT) Meeting. ... BD CLiC System enables genomic research by providing cost ... BD CLiC System is a high-throughput, fully integrated, next ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... N.J. , Feb. 12, 2016  PTC ... the second annual STRIVE (Strategies to Realize Innovation, ... muscular dystrophy (DMD). STRIVE provides funds to patient ... that will make meaningful contributions to the rare ... fostering development of future patient advocates. ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... SAN FRANCISCO , February 12, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... Precision Medicine Efforts by Enabling Scientific Understanding of ... Disorders and Rare Diseases --> ... for genomic diagnostics in South Asia and a leading ... it would contribute $10 million to the GenomeAsia ...
Breaking Biology Technology: