Dispersal and helping in an endangered cooperatively breeding fairy-wren: the role of costs, constraints and individual quality.

Project: Research

Project Details

Project Description

Cooperative breeding, where individuals form social groups and subordinate individuals help the dominant breeding pair to raise their offspring instead of reproducing themselves, is unusually common in Australasia (Brown 1987; Cockburn 1998; Russell et al. 2004). Since individuals should maximise their own reproduction, refraining from doing so is an evolutionary puzzle, that remains to be fully resolved. Ultimately, cooperative breeding is assumed to be driven by ecological constraints on independent breeding (Emlen 1982). Indeed, globally, cooperative breeding is particularly common in environments with high uncertainty and high climatic variability (Jetz & Rubenstein 2011), and when habitats are saturated, conditions that occur frequently in Australia. Therefore, studying this behaviour is not only important to understand its evolution, but also to predict how vulnerable species will cope in the changing Australian landscape and climate, particularly because cooperative breeders have low reproductive rates for population size (Arnold & Owens 1998).
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date31/07/1631/07/17

Funding

  • Equity Trustees: AUD7,500.00