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Reduced egg investment can conceal helper effects in cooperatively breeding birds

Russell, A. F., Langmore, N. E., Cockburn, A., Astheimer, L. B. and Kilner, R. M. 2007, Reduced egg investment can conceal helper effects in cooperatively breeding birds, Science, vol. 317, no. 5840, pp. 941-944, doi: 10.1126/science.1146037.

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Title Reduced egg investment can conceal helper effects in cooperatively breeding birds
Author(s) Russell, A. F.
Langmore, N. E.
Cockburn, A.
Astheimer, L. B.
Kilner, R. M.
Journal name Science
Volume number 317
Issue number 5840
Start page 941
End page 944
Publisher American Association for the Advancement of Science
Place of publication Washington, D.C.
Publication date 2007-08-17
ISSN 0036-8075
1095-9203
Summary Cooperative breeding systems are characterized by nonbreeding helpers that assist breeders in offspring care. However, the benefits to offspring of being fed by parents and helpers in cooperatively breeding birds can be difficult to detect. We offer experimental evidence that helper effects can be obscured by an undocumented maternal tactic. In superb fairy-wrens (Malurus cyaneus), mothers breeding in the presence of helpers lay smaller eggs of lower nutritional content that produce lighter chicks, as compared with those laying eggs in the absence of helpers. Helpers compensate fully for such reductions in investment and allow mothers to benefit through increased survival to the next breeding season. We suggest that failure to consider maternal egg-investment strategies can lead to underestimation of the force of selection acting on helping in avian cooperative breeders.
Language eng
DOI 10.1126/science.1146037
Field of Research 060299 Ecology not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2007, American Association for the Advancement of Science
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30018871

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research
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Created: Fri, 11 Sep 2009, 10:15:40 EST by Leanne Swaneveld

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