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Kin selection, not group augmentation, predicts helping in an obligate cooperatively breeding bird

Browning, L. E., Patrick, S. C., Rollins, L. A., Griffith, S. C. and Russell, A. F. 2012, Kin selection, not group augmentation, predicts helping in an obligate cooperatively breeding bird, Royal society of London. Proceedings B. Biological sciences, vol. 279, no. 1743, pp. 3861-3869, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2012.1080.

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Title Kin selection, not group augmentation, predicts helping in an obligate cooperatively breeding bird
Author(s) Browning, L. E.
Patrick, S. C.
Rollins, L. A.ORCID iD for Rollins, L. A. orcid.org/0000-0002-3279-7005
Griffith, S. C.
Russell, A. F.
Journal name Royal society of London. Proceedings B. Biological sciences
Volume number 279
Issue number 1743
Start page 3861
End page 3869
Total pages 9
Publisher Royal Society Publishing
Place of publication London, England
Publication date 2012-09-22
ISSN 0962-8452
1471-2954
Keyword(s) brood size manipulation
helper effects
inclusive fitness
kin discrimination
plural breeder
provisioning effort
Summary Kin selection theory has been the central model for understanding the evolution of cooperative breeding, where non-breeders help bear the cost of rearing young. Recently, the dominance of this idea has been questioned; particularly in obligate cooperative breeders where breeding without help is uncommon and seldom successful. In such systems, the direct benefits gained through augmenting current group size have been hypothesized to provide a tractable alternative (or addition) to kin selection. However, clear empirical tests of the opposing predictions are lacking. Here, we provide convincing evidence to suggest that kin selection and not group augmentation accounts for decisions of whether, where and how often to help in an obligate cooperative breeder, the chestnut-crowned babbler (Pomatostomus ruficeps). We found no evidence that group members base helping decisions on the size of breeding units available in their social group, despite both correlational and experimental data showing substantial variation in the degree to which helpers affect productivity in units of different size. By contrast, 98 per cent of group members with kin present helped, 100 per cent directed their care towards the most related brood in the social group, and those rearing half/full-sibs helped approximately three times harder than those rearing less/non-related broods. We conclude that kin selection plays a central role in the maintenance of cooperative breeding in this species, despite the apparent importance of living in large groups.
Language eng
DOI 10.1098/rspb.2012.1080
Field of Research 060201 Behavioural Ecology
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2012, Royal Society Publishing
Free to Read? Yes
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30046936

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.