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In cooperative breeding systems, some individuals help to raise offspring that are not their own. While early explanations for such altruistic behaviour were predominantly based on kin selection, recent evidence suggests that direct benefits may be important in the maintenance of cooperation. To date, however, discussions of cooperative breeding have made(More)
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(More)
Most animals reproduce until they die, but in humans, females can survive long after ceasing reproduction. In theory, a prolonged post-reproductive lifespan will evolve when females can gain greater fitness by increasing the success of their offspring than by continuing to breed themselves. Although reproductive success is known to decline in old age, it is(More)
In many animal societies, dominant individuals monopolize reproduction, but the tactics they employ to achieve this are poorly understood. One possibility is that aggressive dominants render their subordinates infertile by inducing chronic physiological "stress." However, this hypothesis has been discarded largely for cooperatively breeding species, where(More)
The environment that an offspring experiences during its development can have lifelong consequences for its morphology, anatomy, physiology and behaviour that are strong enough to span generations. One aspect of an offspring's environment that can have particularly pronounced and long-lasting effects is that provided by its parent(s) (maternal effects).(More)
The widespread belief that kin selection is necessary for the evolution of cooperative breeding in vertebrates has recently been questioned. These doubts have primarily arisen because of the paucity of unequivocal evidence for kin preferences in cooperative behaviour. Using the cooperative breeding system of long-tailed tits (Aegithalos caudatus) in which(More)
Natal dispersal is an important life history trait driving variation in individual fitness, and therefore, a proper understanding of the factors underlying dispersal behaviour is critical to many fields including population dynamics, behavioural ecology and conservation biology. However, individual dispersal patterns remain difficult to quantify despite(More)
When parents invest heavily in reproduction they commonly suffer significant energetic costs. Parents reduce the long-term fitness implications of these costs through increased foraging and reduced reproductive investment in the future. Similar behavioral modifications might be expected among helpers in societies of cooperative vertebrates, in which helping(More)
Wild organisms are under increasing pressure to adapt rapidly to environmental changes. Predicting the impact of these changes on natural populations requires an understanding of the speed with which adaptive phenotypes can arise and spread, as well as of the underlying mechanisms. However, our understanding of these parameters is poor in natural(More)
In most animals, the sex that invests least in its offspring competes more intensely for access to the opposite sex and shows greater development of secondary sexual characters than the sex that invests most. However, in some mammals where females are the primary care-givers, females compete more frequently or intensely with each other than males. A(More)