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Study Explores Why Some Individuals Sacrifice To Help Others Reproduce

Date:
March 9, 2006
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
Biologists have explored a theory of social behavior that seeks to explain why some individuals willingly sacrifice their own reproduction to help raise others' offspring.

Peter Nonacs (University of California - Los Angeles), Aviva E. Liebert (Tufts University) and Philip T. Starks (Tufts University) have explored a theory of social behavior that seeks to explain why some individuals willingly sacrifice their own reproduction to help raise others' offspring.

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"Transactional Skew" (TS) theory proposes that such cooperation is possible through "shared reproduction," making it worthwhile to help close relatives because some of the same genes are getting passed along. Thus, the degree of shared reproduction should vary across groups by the degree to which they are related.

However, in a study across four species of paper wasps -- long considered one of the best examples supporting this theory -- the researchers found that not only was there cooperation and shared reproduction between sisters but also between distantly related or unrelated wasps.

"This result strongly rejects the unique TS prediction that the level of cooperation should vary across groups according to the attributes of individual group members," says Nonacs. "[We] propose an alternative explanation in which wasps seek to cooperate with close kin, but less related groups sometimes form due to recognition errors."


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The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nonacs et al. Transactional Skew and Assured Fitness Return Models Fail to Predict Patterns of Cooperation in Wasps.. The American Naturalist, 2006; 167 (4): 467 DOI: 10.1086/501168

Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "Study Explores Why Some Individuals Sacrifice To Help Others Reproduce." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 March 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060308212003.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2006, March 9). Study Explores Why Some Individuals Sacrifice To Help Others Reproduce. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060308212003.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "Study Explores Why Some Individuals Sacrifice To Help Others Reproduce." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060308212003.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

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