Helpers compensate for age‐related declines in parental care and offspring survival in a cooperatively breeding bird

Hammers, Martijn, Kingma, Sjouke A., van Boheemen, Lotte A., Sparks, Alexandra M., Burke, Terry, Dugdale, Hannah L., Richardson, David S. ORCID: and Komdeur, Jan (2021) Helpers compensate for age‐related declines in parental care and offspring survival in a cooperatively breeding bird. Evolution Letters, 5 (2). pp. 143-153. ISSN 2056-3744

[thumbnail of Published_Version]
PDF (Published_Version) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (627kB) | Preview


Offspring from elderly parents often have lower survival due to parental senescence. In cooperatively breeding species, where offspring care is shared between breeders and helpers, the alloparental care provided by helpers is predicted to mitigate the impact of parental senescence on offspring provisioning and, subsequently, offspring survival. We test this prediction using data from a long‐term study on cooperatively breeding Seychelles warblers (Acrocephalus sechellensis). We find that the nestling provisioning rate of female breeders declines with their age. Further, the total brood provisioning rate and the first‐year survival probability of offspring decline progressively with age of the female breeder, but these declines are mitigated when helpers are present. This effect does not arise because individual helpers provide more care in response to the lower provisioning of older dominant females, but because older female breeders have recruited more helpers, thereby receiving more overall care for their brood. We do not find such effects for male breeders. These results indicate that alloparental care can alleviate the fitness costs of senescence for breeders, which suggests an interplay between age and cooperative breeding.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Research Funding: Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek; Natural Environment Research Council. Grant Numbers: NE/F02083X/1, NE/K005502/1; Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. Grant Numbers: 854.11.003, 823.01.014; NERC. Grant Numbers: NE/I021748/1, 823.01.014; NWO. Grant Numbers: 863.15.020, 863.13.017
Uncontrolled Keywords: ageing,cooperative breeding,parental care,senescence,sociality,ecology, evolution, behavior and systematics,genetics ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1100/1105
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Biological Sciences
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Science > Research Centres > Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation
Faculty of Science > Research Groups > Organisms and the Environment
Related URLs:
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2021 23:47
Last Modified: 14 May 2023 00:54
DOI: 10.1002/evl3.213


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item