Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Helping family is key for social birds

Date:
July 12, 2012
Source:
University of New South Wales
Summary:
Social birds that forgo breeding to help to raise the offspring of other group members are far more likely to care for their own close relatives than for more distant kin, a new study has found. The study, which looked at a highly social species from outback Australia, the chestnut-crowned babbler, also found that these birds work much harder to care for their brothers and sisters than the young of less-related group members.

Babbler by a nest.
Credit: Photo by Lucy Browning

Social birds that forgo breeding to help to raise the offspring of other group members are far more likely to care for their own close relatives than for more distant kin, a new study has found.

Related Articles


The study, which looked at a highly social species from outback Australia, the chestnut-crowned babbler, also found that these birds work much harder to care for their brothers and sisters than the young of less-related group members.

The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, provide new insights into understanding why some individuals cooperate with each other for a common good rather than pursuing their own selfish reproductive agenda.

"Cooperation is a major evolutionary puzzle," says Dr Lucy Browning from the University of New South Wales and the University of Cambridge, who led the study and is a post-doctoral researcher at the UNSW Arid Zone Research Station, at Fowlers Gap, in far-western NSW.

"One idea is that by helping relatives with whom they share DNA, they can pass on their genes indirectly, but testing this idea in birds and mammals has proved surprisingly difficult.

"An alternative theory is that such cooperation is actually selfish because in group-living species like babblers, individuals can increase their own welfare by helping to make their group larger, irrespective of how closely related they are.

"The fact that babblers preferentially help family members makes it seem likely that promoting the success of kin is the reason they cooperate."

Babblers live in groups in which most members help to take care of young chicks in the nest, despite not being the parents themselves. But like any team activity, some individuals do the lion's share of all the work, while others do nothing at all.

"We wanted to get to the bottom of why some 'helpers' were so industrious while others were apparently so lazy," says Dr Browning. "We found that when helpers are caring for their brothers and sisters, they feed them three times more often than when they are unrelated. In other words, they are much more 'helpful' when looking after family."

The study took place between 2006 and 2008, with birds being fitted with tiny radio transponders that were detected each time an individual visited the nest in order to feed the chicks.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New South Wales. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. L. E. Browning, S. C. Patrick, L. A. Rollins, S. C. Griffith, A. F. Russell. Kin selection, not group augmentation, predicts helping in an obligate cooperatively breeding bird. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2012.1080

Cite This Page:

University of New South Wales. "Helping family is key for social birds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120712101553.htm>.
University of New South Wales. (2012, July 12). Helping family is key for social birds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120712101553.htm
University of New South Wales. "Helping family is key for social birds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120712101553.htm (accessed March 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) — A lioness in Pakistan has given birth to five cubs, twice the usual size of a litter. Queen gave birth to two other cubs just nine months ago. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Using motion tracking technology, researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are trying to establish an optimum horse riding style to train junior jockeys, as well as enhance safety, health and well-being of both racehorses and jockeys. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Two Andean bear cubs are unveiled at the U.S. National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Alicia Powell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

AFP (Mar. 25, 2015) — Experts are gathering in Botswana to try to end the illegal wildlife trade that is decimating populations of elephants, rhinos and other threatened species. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins