Teamwork in the Desert Explains the Global Model of Bird Cooperation
New research in the Kalahari Desert has shown that teamwork enables birds to cope with woefully unpredictable environments.
This groundbreaking discovery explains why the long-standing mystery of cooperation between bird Associated with unpredictable environments around the world.
Siberian sparrows live in the Kalahari Desert. In the Kalahari Desert, rainfall changes dramatically and food is scarce during the dry season.
Birds live Family groupIt consists of a single breeding pair and up to 10 non-breeding âhelpersâ to help feed the chicks.
Explaining the evolution of such seemingly disinterested behavior has long been the focus of evolutionary research.
A new study by a research team at the University of Exeter shows that families with more helpers successfully raise more chicks. Dry state..
Interestingly, these families do less well in wet conditions than families with little help. That is, cooperative support does not improve overall breeding success, but rather reduces variability in breeding success due to weather conditions. This is useful in other respects.
âWe were really surprised. Our results suggest that birds work together to cope with their unpredictability. environment“Dr Andrew Young of the Center for Ecology and Conservation at the Penryn Campus of Exeter in Cornwall said.
âThis is an exciting discovery, as other studies have shown that cooperative behavior between birds is associated with unpredictable environments around the world, especially those with varying precipitation.
âOur findings help explain this mysterious global pattern. Cooperation is most beneficial in unpredictable environments, as it helps families cope with such delicate situations. There can be.
“NS Evolutionary biologistOur research is also exciting because it provides the strongest evidence to date for a new strategy called âaltruistic betting hedgingâ. This strategy changes cooperation because organizations can face unpredictable things. “
Most animal species have evolved to inherit genes through reproduction, but a process called “parentage selection” allows individuals who cannot reproduce on their own to help their parents reproduce and to ensure that the genes of the family. their families are inherited. to augment.
In the Siberian Thrush weaving family, helpers are usually the offspring of a couple, so helping can increase the chances of survival for younger siblings.
“In this case, things get complicated,” said Dr Pablo Capilla Rachelas, who currently works at the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine at the University of Glasgow.
âIn this species, cooperation is probably not explained by classical evolution, as the presence of assistants does not increase the overall reproductive success of the parents.
âInstead, cooperation reduces breeding variability and helps birds cope with their unpredictable environment.
âSuch a betting hedging strategy reduces the risk of total failure if you can’t predict what’s going to happen.
“Our results suggest that cooperation can serve this purpose, so that families of weaver sparrows enjoy successful reproduction regardless of the precipitation conditions they experience. I can.”
The findings, based on a 12-year field survey in the Kalahari Desert, also provide clues as to how different bird species will adapt in the future.
Dr. Young explains: Unpredictable environmentWe expect this to become more and more common with climate change. “
The study found that female assistants were more supportive (feeding chicks more) than male assistants.
âIn particular, it is the number of female assistants that affects a family’s ability to cope with unpredictable rainy conditions. There are fewer male assistants, âsaid Dr Young.
“This observation convinces us that having more helpers, rather than just living in a large group, is responsible for the effects we have seen.”
The study was conducted in the Twarkarahari reserve in South Africa and was funded by the Biotechnology & Bioscience Research Council.
Articles published in the journal Scientists progressEntitled âThe Evolution of Altruistic Betting Coverage and Cooperation with Karahari Birdsâ.
“Evolution of Altruistic Betting Coverage and Kalahari Bird Cooperation” Scientists progress (2021). DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.abe8980
University of Exeter
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