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Sex-specific associative learning cues and inclusive fitness benefits in the Seychelles warbler

Richardson, D.S., Burke, T. and Komdeur, J. (2003) Sex-specific associative learning cues and inclusive fitness benefits in the Seychelles warbler. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 16 (5). pp. 854-861. ISSN 1010-061X


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In cooperative breeding vertebrates, indirect fitness benefits would be maximized by subordinates that accurately assess their relatedness to group offspring and preferentially help more closely related kin. In the Seychelles warbler (Acrocephalus sechellensis), we found a positive relationship between subordinate-nestling kinship (determined using microsatellite marker genotypes)and provisioning rates, but only for female subordinates. Female subordinates that helped were significantly more related to the nestlings than were nonhelpers, and the decision to help appears to be based on associative learning cues. High levels of female infidelity means that subordinates cannot trust their legitimacy through the male line, consequently they appear to use the continued presence of the primary female, but not the primary male, as a reliable cue to determine when to feed nestlings. By using effective discrimination, female subordinates are able to maximize the indirect benefits gained within a cooperative breeding system otherwise driven primarily by direct breeding benefits.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: Copyright © 2003 Blackwell Science Ltd. This is an electronic version of an article published in Journal of Evolutionary Biology: complete citation information for the final version of the paper, as published in the print edition of Journal of Evolutionary Biology, is available on the Blackwell Synergy online delivery service, accessible via the journal's website at http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=1010-061X or http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/
Keywords: associative learning, cooperative breeding, helpers, indirect fitness, kinship, sex-specific cues, Seychelles warbler
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > School of Biological Sciences (Sheffield) > Department of Animal and Plant Sciences (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Sherpa Assistant
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2005
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2014 15:41
Published Version: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/
Status: Published
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1046/j.1420-9101.2003.00592.x
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/371

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